Music: Hannah Peel
Writer: Graham Greene
Adaptor: Bryony Lavery
Director: Esther Richardson
Reviewer: Sam Lowe
Anything is possible at the theatre, including the creation of one more week in the year. Yes, it is the Week 53 festival at The Lowry, and tonight’s offering is Brighton Rock. Pilot Theatre aim to create theatre for young people, which allows them the opportunity to question, explore, and dissect universal ideas about the world. This is a theatre company with a moral compass pointing in the right direction.
At the centre of the story are two teenagers, Pinkie and Rose. Pinkie is the leader of a brutal gang, responsible for multiple murders, and Rose works as a waitress at Snow’s restaurant. When both of their worlds collide and they get to know each other, things turn complicated, and Pinkie has to do whatever he can to keep Rose quiet about what’s gone on. It’s up to Ida to expose Pinkie and his gang for what they truly are.
The dark, film noir style is an utter delight to experience. It creates a subtly suspenseful atmosphere, as the ensemble always lurk maliciously in the background. This fast-paced production is relateable to a younger and older audience alike. The two main characters are kids in an adult world. They struggle with the complexities of life, constructing their identities, and love and intimacy.
Jacob James Beswick gives a stunning performance as Pinkie. He presents a well-rounded character who is manipulative, vulnerable, extreme, violent, and frightened. The sweet and innocent Rose, is brilliantly played by Sarah Middleton. Her romanticised dreams of life and love, blind her to the fact she is an abusive relationship with Pinkie. This is so sad to witness. Ida, is a chic and sophisticated woman turned detective, as acted by Gloria Onitiri. Her performance oozes with charm and presence, however, her character’s laugh is a bit overdone.
Designed by Sara Perks, we see Brighton Pier looking unwelcoming and partially dismantled. The industrial aesthetic of the set is suitably cold, sinister, and menacing. It seems very much inspired by Kneehigh Theatre, particularly as the set incorporates a musician area and multiple levels. For the most part, the lighting is clinical with very occasional warmth, isolating specific moments onstage.
The most successful element is the music, which forms an integral aesthetic feature of the play. What is usually background music is foregrounded. The threatening, ominous, and psychedelic music score is the driving force of the play.
As an audience member, you can’t help but be enveloped in this world. It is a visual delight. A play with so many twists and turns accumulates into an abrupt silence at the end. The tension is palpable. Spellbinding.
Runs until 26th May 2018 | Image: Karl Andre