Romeo & Juliet meets Peaky Blinders at The REP

Romeo & Juliet meets Peaky Blinders in this gripping tale of crime and romance.

Graham Greene’s iconic novel Brighton Rock is brought to Birmingham Repertory Theatre from 10 – 14 April, adapted for the stage by award-winning playwright, Bryony Lavery (FrozenStockholm and Beautiful Burnout).

Directed by Pilot Theatre’s new Artistic Director Esther Richardson and featuring a soundtrack composed by the acclaimed singer, musician and composer Hannah Peel, Brighton Rock tells the story of two seventeen-year olds, Pinkie and Rose, who get embroiled in a vicious gang war in Brighton.

One brutal murder leads to the next, the police are impassive, but the courageous and life embracing Ida Arnold wants the truth. Nothing scares her. Whatever the cost, she’ll see justice is done.

Written in 1938, Graham Greene’s classic novel of good and evil was first adapted for the stage at the Garrick Theatre with Richard Attenborough playing Pinkie, a role he resumed in the iconic 1947 film version. In 2010 Greene’s novel was remade, setting it in 1964, with Sam Riley, Andrea Riseborough and Helen Mirren. In 1993 Vicky Featherstone directed David Hurlock’s stage adaptation of the novel at West Yorkshire Playhouse and in 2004 John Barry and Don Black wrote a musical version which ran at the Almeida Theatre.

Speaking of the new adaptation, playwright Bryony Lavery said:

Why adapt Brighton Rock for the stage? Because it is such a treasure chest of narrative delights. It has got everything…It’s a love story, a revenge tragedy, a small-town murder mystery, an array of small-time gangsters and a middle-aged woman who knows no fear and who will stop at nothing to do right. In the poisoned relationship between Pinkie and Rose, there is one of the best accounts ever of what it is like to be 16 and 17 years’ old in a terrible, violent, adolescence.

Composer Hannah Peel said:

The menacing aspects to the 1930’s story are even more resonant today so I am really excited about working Pilot Theatre for this incredible stage version of Brighton Rock. With an even greater sense darkness in the current world climate, my mind is already buzzing from the amount of music and sonic possibilities we will be bringing live to the stage.

Returning to The REP’s stage, following her villainous portrayal of Crulla de Vil in our Christmas production of The Hundred And One Dalmatians, is Gloria Onitiri in the role of Ida, the cast also includes Jacob James Beswick (People, Places And Things, Headlong and National Theatre) as Pinkie, Sarah Middleton (The Hypocrite, RSC and Treasure Island, The REP) as Rose, Angela Bain as Spicer, Marc Graham as Cubbitt, Jennifer Jackson as Crab and Colleoni, Dorian Simpson as Dallow, Shamira Turner as Sylvie/Prewitt and Chris Jack as Phil.

Brighton Rock is co-commissioned by The Lowry for Week 53 and presented by special arrangement with STUDIOCANAL.