Culture and red tape collide in Hull Truck Theatre
A new play by award-winning writer James Graham brings Hull Truck Theatre’s Year of Exceptional Drama to a close.
Pilot Theatre Company presents a 1930s noir-style crime thriller about the Brighton underworld.
We spoke with cast member, Marc Graham, to find out more about the fascinating Brighton Rock.
Hi, Mark. Can you tell us a little bit more about the show?
Brighton Rock is a novel from the late 1930s, written by Graham Greene. It explores the Brighton underworld at the time and follows a central character, Pinky, a seventeen-year-old boy.
The novel begins with the leader of the gang being murdered and Pinky takes it upon himself to become the new figurehead. The rest of the group can’t quite accept this and Pinky begins to lose control from the very beginning of the story.
Bryony Lavery has adapted the story for the stage. Does she stay true to the original book?
It does. Again, our story starts with a murder and follows Pinky as he tries to cover up a key piece of evidence that has been left unturned. The plot also heavily involves two women, a sixteen-year-old girl called Rose and Ida, an older woman.
Ida knows that some form of miscarriage of justice has been done and spends her time following Pinky to get to the bottom of it.
Pinky decides Rose must be on his side for him to succeed, so plans to marry her. He is desperately trying to control an uncontrollable situation.
Wow, it sounds like a real thriller!
Yes, we’ve gone for a crime, noir style. The production is extremely cinematic.
A lot of people may remember the film from the late 40s, but we have tried to avoid watching it in order to stay close to Greene’s novel.
Who do you play?
I play a few roles. Hale, who is a journalist, and Cubbitt, a right-hand man of Pinky’s.
Cubbitt’s journey is quite interesting. He’s older than Pinky but doesn’t really challenge him, as he is not a leader. However, he shows resentment towards him throughout the play. In fact, he ends up losing Pinky’s trust and equally loses faith in Pinky.
How was the rehearsal process?
My characters have been really great to play, although it has been a bit of a challenge. Because there are so many elements going into this production, it has taken quite a while to fully take shape.
For example, there is live music, incredible set design, detailed costumes and a lot of physical movement, too. It was hard to get a true vision of it as a whole before we actually got into rehearsing with the full set and costumes.
Bryony has done an excellent job of adapting the complex story for the stage. If we put everything in from the novel, we would have ended up with an 11-hour play - nobody wants to sit through that.
Bryony has picked out the stories she wants to tell, such as Ida’s. She is very central to our production, but not so much in the book. She’s a very determined character, driven by this injustice. You see the story from her perspective and the audience watches Ida’s story unfold.
What makes this version of Brighton Rock stand out?
Bryony wanted to take a 2018 approach to the play. It’s still set in the 1930s but has a twenty-first century twist. The costumes are a good example of this; each is based on a 1930s style but with more updated fittings.
Meanwhile, the live music composed by Hannah Peel fuses the 30s with electronic and synth sounds.
In the novel, there is a lot of mention of music, so we wanted to make it very prevalent throughout our play.
Brighton Rock runs at Hull Truck Theatre from tonight until Saturday 24 March.