THERE IS A PROFUSION OF MALE BRAVADO, COCKY SWAGGERING AND GANGLAND violence in this exciting theatre adaptation of Ted Lewis' story.
Jack Lord plays gangster Jack Carter, determined to uncover the mysterious circumstances surrounding brother Frank's death and wanting to settle old scores. He finds Frank's daughter Doreen and investigates deeper into the northern criminal underworld, attracting the wrong attention with dramatic results. With slow motion but bloody violence, he tries to extinguish those who must pay the price.
Five actors play the other 22 characters, switching energetically between them. Daniel Copeland convincingly alternates accents and movements as six of the characters, including nervy Eric and comical Peter the Dutchman. Kieron Jecchinis' confident multi-role playing as Kinnear, Brumby, Albert, Con and Les match Copeland.
Sally Orrock and Angela Ward share the six female roles. Orrock makes much of her characters, particularly as Edna Garfoot, working well with Lord. Ward plays sassy Glenda and feisty Doreen with subtle variety and Tim Weekes completes this powerful and confident cast with his own surety in five roles.
Neil Irish's versatile set gives a letterbox style and incorporates a clever line of lockers, which become doors, wardrobes, cupboards and urinals. The stage's deep raking creates a sense of height and naturalism and the creativity with the two benches is well thought out and effective.
Jonathan Holloway and David Sherman's blunt lighting helps the gritty edge, accompanied by Jon Nicholl's thumping soundtrack.
This is tough-talking, hard-hitting, contemporary and cinematic theatre.
THE GUARDIAN ****
"Jonathan Holloway's superb in-yer-face stage adaptation returns to Ted Lewis' grimy original novel It reeks of sweat and piss, and disappointed dreams. It leaves a very nasty taste in the mouth as it captures the not-so- swinging early 70s. But never in an exploitative way.
There is a tiny, quite telling and quite brilliant moment right at the very beginning that signals that this is not going to be just a boy's night out: Carter - cool as heck in his sharp suit and side burns - stands in the middle of a soon-to-be blood-splattered, white-tiled kitchen and rolls up his sleeves as if ready to beat the hell out of the black man. Instead, he does the washing up. What follows is gritty kitchen sink drama of the highest order.
There are blokes with medallions and mock camel-hair coats, sad-eyed girls in their undies, Johnny Walker Black Label and talk of "pakis" and "coons" in abundance. But Holloway's small-scale miracle is energised by a pulsating sound-track of period pop hits and played out on Neil Irish's wonderfully effective tiled design that conjures both the abattoir and those 1960's local swimming-pool changing rooms where a verrucca lurked in every locker. It is never just a clever piece of violent retro and doesn't celebrate the white, male, working-class culture that in the last 40 years has all but disappeared - but it does excavate it, just as it excavates a forgotten industrial Britain, of flat caps, steel works, slag heaps and working men's clubs.
It is a disappearing
world and one which, as Carter observes, is becoming homogenised,
with a BHS on every high street. He knows his days are numbered.
This is what makes Get Carter a working-class tragedy, and never
turns you on is very theatrical theatre, very event driven theatre,
Red Shift offer that in spades. What they do really amazes me
the sound design was amazing
it's one of the finest
production designs I've seen."
"a hard-edged, relentless show which Holloway himself likens to a Jacobean revenge tragedy, cut with a touch of British film noir. There are no grubby-picturesque Newcastle exteriors here, as the action unfolds in a single, claustrophobic space in a nameless northern town.
Centre stage is the blanched face and super-tense body of Jack Lord's Carter, a professional man of violence who returns north - to what he calls "the colonies" - to investigate the sudden death of his brother Frank, and finds himself confronting the kind of child-porn operation that even he cannot shrug off as just another business.
What Lewis portrays in the way of blood-smeared violence and sexual degradation is shocking, and what he predicts about post-war Britain, in terms of the collapse of morality in the face of market forces, is ominous.
But the power
of the story is undeniable; and using a cast of only six, Holloway
keeps it moving at such a lick that, while the detail sometimes
passes us by, the emotional outlines emerge stark and clear,
and as graphic as a streak of blood on a breezeblock wall."
and chilling, the cast act their socks off and reflect the equally
powerful dramatisation by director Jonathan Holloway almost to
perfection. The characters they play are people that you've probably
met before. The kind you've overheard in a bar or watched crossing
the street thinking "There's something about them that doesn't
quite feel right". The sense of reality that the actors
bring to these characters is scary and I applaud that.
Remorseless Jack Carter, local boy made bad, returns to his old haunts in Newcastle from London after learning of his brother Frank's apparent suicide.
Subsequently the story obeys Raymond Chandler's maxim, "When you don't know what happens next, have a man come into the room with a gun in his hand".
It may be grim up north, but it's rather polished at the Rondo with, perhaps, the best stage set I've seen there and professional performances of the 20 or so characters involved by just half a dozen actors.
Atmosphere and blood oozes as Jack bullies the convoluted truth out of old friends and enemies, and learns: "It's a new age Jack. You may be tough Jack, but you're a ****ing square." Well, if he didn't like the music, he was. Lots of it, from James Brown to the Beach Boys and even Shirley Bassey (oops, not a prefect production, then).
Ted Lewis wrote the book. Mike Hodges directed the superb film of it in 1971, and Red Shift pulls off a coup with the stage version.
The pace never slackens, scenes change in the blink of an eye and one wonders of those not already familiar will follow completely.
The Geordie setting is virtually absent though, as the stark, single, tiled interior set converts cleverly. A wall of lockers switches into doors, cupboards and even the gents' urinal. Jack Lord is permanently on stage as Jack Carter and his menace is only just exceeded by Kieron Jecchinis as the smooth, tough, top dog, Kinnear.
There won't be
many empty seats tonight and tomorrow, but if you can get a ticket,
The film upon which it is based appears, at first glance, to be beyond translation to the stage. But this show is in the safe hands of the multi-talented, multi-faceted Red Shift - so there really is no cause for concern.
The cast of six take on, between them, at least 23 characters and their skill lies in the fact that never once is there any confusion as to which person it is that you're seeing.
Played on a single, multi-purpose box-set full of forced perspective and trompe l'oeuil fittings, the action moves between the frighteningly realistic and the highly stylised.
Dialogue is intense and real, but all the violence is a stylised, slow-motion affair and all the more horrible for it - and the stage does end up covered with gore.
Every one of the more-than-able cast contributes. Jack Lord, Daniel Copeland, Kieran Jecchinis, Sally Orrock, Angela Ward and Tim Weekes are a strong ensemble unit.
The plotting is heavy with layer upon layer of bluff, double-bluff, point and counterpoint which confuses from time to time - but ultimately it's very fine theatre indeed.