For a brief run from March 6th – 10th, the widely reputed 1938 Graham Greene novel, Brighton Rock returns to the very heart of its story here at Brighton’s Theatre Royal. Delving into the underbelly of Brighton’s gangster warfare during the 1930’s, the play promises to bring the dark underworld of the classic novel to stage through this new adaption by acclaimed writer Bryony Lavery and director Esther Richardson.
Admittedly, my only familiarity of the novel is watching the 1948 film noir with my dad when I was little. Failing to understand any of the plot or what was going on due to the complex dialogue, I was probably wishing we could pop a Disney film on or at least a film with colour instead. Recently however, I’ve begun to read the novel to get to grips with the enormity of its iconic status. An immediate page-turner, I wonder if the immersive nature of the story will be reflected in Richardson’s artistic direction. For me, most of the intrigue of the narrative is seen in the character’s interactions with one another. Drenched in immorality and corruption, the disturbed anti-hero’s sociopathic tendencies towards others is where the play needs to focus its characterisation – and I have high hopes for actor Jacob James Beswick to deliver in the challenging role.
I’m also interested in seeing how the novel is going to be visually adapted on stage especially given its definite understated nature. I really hope younger audiences won’t be discouraged or grow bored from a lack of spectacle, and I wonder if Richardson would have had this in mind during the play’s production. Many of the themes that the story covers are still prevalent in today’s society; morality, youth, religion and redemption – emphasis on these issues would be useful in encouraging younger members of the audience to engage with the novel. I’m also intrigued to see the portrayal and characterisation of the main female figures – Rose and Ida. Previous adaptations have reinforced this comparison between the two – Ida being an image of female strength and capability in comparison to Rose’s passivity and naivety. I’m excited to see the artistic choices behind these characters and whether they will remain opposites or potentially mirror one another.
Brighton Rock will be at the Theatre Royal Brighton from Tuesday 6 – Saturday 10 March. Performances begin at 7:45pm, with additional shows at 2:30pm on Thursday 8 and Saturday 10 March.
Tickets: From £14.90
Images credit: Karl Andre Photography