Brighton Rock @ The York Theatre Royal Review

Brighton pier, a place of beach time pleasure and circus like design, becomes a destination of death and despair in this gripping new noir thriller.


At just seventeen Pinkie (Jacob James Beswick) has accomplished wide spread gang control within Brighton, and is now taking the war straight to his competitors doors. Defy his trust, or merely annoy this young firecracker, and you will not just find your credibility in shatters, but find yourself a one way ticket to the other side. The boy’s animalistic quality of kill or be killed lures audiences straight into this ghetto like warfare zone, and makes one wonder how long each character really has left.

Ida (Gloria Ontiri), the noisy yet incredibly acute female lead, stands out by far from the crowd as her airy vocals and sassy personality demand total attention from all. Ida’s face off against the merciless Pinkie is a clash of the titans type affair, and only until the other is silenced will they finally surrender. Good strong powerful protagonists kick start the show into full gear, and leave you most definitely speeding to the climatic end in which one finally defeats the other. However, the most impressive element of the entire piece is delivered by the edgy and slightly uneasy score. The two hidden musicians on stage create a tense atmosphere that prowls across the theatre space and aids the actors in making their characters even more dynamic. Some interesting electronic style beats that, merged with a slightly jazz inspired tune here and there, just make the piece that little bit more contemporary. As does the clever scenographic touches the design team decide to use on set, having civilian clothing turn into ‘gangster wear’ once turned inside out, and the use of the movable stairs on stage is simply genius.

The only downturn of the piece comes predominantly from its lack of ability to shock as much as you would expect from the gripping description found online. It tends to, besides from certain elements mentioned above, fall quite flat in the way of total action and shock value. Audiences seem relatively relaxed, and the pressure and intensity of the performance should really draw one in further, feeling the discomfort of the storyline along with the characters.

Overall, lack of total action aside, the piece has some real nice touches and some stand out acting talent to boot. Brighton is quite literally the new Chicago in this unnerving new adaptation, and the music alone is definitely worth a listen.

Grab your stick of rock and book in to see a new type of British Scandi inspired drama, written by legendary English novelist Graham Greene3/5

Review written by Luke Redhead.

Brighton Rock is currently showing until Saturday 3rd March at the York Theatre Royal. To find out more about the production, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop