Review: Brighton Rock, York Theatre Royal

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Brighton Rock is Esther Richardson’s first major production as director for Pilot Theatre, and the air of anticipation of seeing a rare adaptation of Graham Greene’s dark and suspenseful thriller was electric.

Brighton Rock was the perfect choice for young adults and adults alike to reflect on some of the agonies of being young, particularly the quest to find self-worth and identity.

This was Romeo and Juliet with attitude, and Pilot lived up to its reputation for quality theatre; an unsettling and knotty story about being young and, most topical for our troubled times, a story that was “truthful about the dangers of radicalisation.

Brilliantly adapted by playwright Bryony Lavery, along with a dream production team of designer Sara Perks, lighting designer Aideene Malone, and Hannah Peel who composed the atmospheric soundtrack for the play, this mesmerising murder thriller kept you on the edge of your seat.

Sin and redemption maybe doesn’t mean as much as it did when Greene wrote his novel, but nevertheless the consequences of certain acts came across loud and clear, particularly in the menacing ensemble pieces, carefully choreographed, and supported by the superb set.

Hannah Peel’s score was performed live by herself, along with percussionist James Field, creating the dark, dangerous atmosphere and driving the story along to its shocking conclusion.

The three central characters, Pinkie, Jacob James Beswick, a 17-year-old,self-made leader of a small-time Brighton mob, Rose, Sarah Middleton, a 16-year-old waitress who fell in love with Pinkie, and Ida, Gloria Onitiri, a fearless working class woman who risked her life to see “justice is done”,

Beswick was superb in his role as the callow and cruel juvenile mob leader, as was Middleton, who gave her character a vulnerability, yet at times, showed a spine of steel, showing that she was no fool.

Onitiri commanded the space with her charismatic portrayal of Ida.

It runs at York until Saturday March 3 and is at Hull Truck from March 20 to 25.