Theatre review: The Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption at Leeds Grand Theatre
The Shawshank Redemption at Leeds Grand Theatre
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Leed Grand Theatre ****

Shawshank Redemption has been adapted for the stage from Stephen King’s original story rather than the iconic 1994 film.

Set in the Shawshank Penitentiary it’s a grim tale laced with brutality, injustice, gang rape and violence – yet so cleverly presented that these shocking moments don’t linger in the audience’s mind – they are soon forgotten as the next drama unfurls.

Director David Esbjornson uses lighting, simple ingenious set changes and vintage songs to lift this into a pacey, piece of believable theatre. The story evolves around Andy Dufresne, serving a double life sentence for murder. Incarcerated at the notorious Shawshank he learns he can’t survive alone and strikes up an unlikely friendship with prison fixer Red. Shawshank Redemption demands high quality acting and masterly characterization from its actors who hold the story together – and this is a cast that ticks all the boxes.

Patrick Robinson as Red drives the show with an amazing characterization and a final monologue that moves the audience with its humour and touching sense of pathos.

As Andy Dufresne, Ian Kelsey is cool, yet determined with a steely attitude that heightens as the play progresses. Both inmates and warders get to grips with their roles superbly. Particularly outstanding are Rico (Declan Perring), Rooster (Leigh Jones) and Owen Oldroyd as Entwistle the old man who doesn’t want to be free.

• To September 5.