Skip to main content

Get Carter

Citizen's Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

The coffin that sits centre stage at the opening of Northern Stage's new dramatisation of Ted Lewis' grim slice of post-1960s pulp fiction is as symbolic of the demise of northern England's industrial powerhouse as the mountain of bricks behind it. It is also what drags local tough guy made good Jack Carter back from the affluent south to make a prodigal's return to bury his brother Frank. What Jack returns to, as anyone who has seen Mike Hodges' iconic big-screen 1971 adaptation will know, is a murky world of back-street gangsterism that preys on an acquisitive desperation for the good life flogged off as cheap thrills. Booze, home-made porn and bent slot machines are all fair game.

By returning to Lewis' book, writer Torben Betts and director Lorne Campbell manage to fill in the blanks the film left out through a last-gasp interior monologue cum confessional that lays bare Jack's own messed-up psychology in an even more messed-up world. Jack is played by Kevin Wathen, who leads a cast of seven with a steely fury that gives the piece its perverted moral compass in the face of a grotesquely observed array of reptilian hit-men and molls.

Frank is personified onstage by jazz drummer Martin Douglas, whose pitter-pattering brush strokes sound increasingly like a death knell. Surrounded by the damaged goods of the never-had-it-so-bad years, Jack also exposes how the dream of post-war urban renewal became a pyre of civic corruption fuelled by empire-building greed. All of this is shot through with the depth and intensity of Greek tragedy in a stylish and unremitting piece of slow-burning brutalist noir.


The Herald, March 11th 2016

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

Scot:Lands 2017

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

A sense of place is everything in Scot:Lands. Half the experience of Edinburgh's Hogmanay's now annual tour of the country's diverse array of cultures seen over nine bespoke stages in one global village is the physical journey itself. Scot:Lands too is about how that sense of place interacts with the people who are inspired inspired by that place.

So it was in Nether:Land, where you could see the day in at the Scottish Storytelling Centre with a mixed bag of traditional storytellers and contemporary performance poets such as Jenny Lindsay. The queues beside the Centre's cafe were further enlivened by the gentlest of ceilidhs was ushered in by Mairi Campbell and her band.

For Wig:Land, the grandiloquence of the little seen Signet Library in Parliament Square was transformed into a mini version of the Wigtown Book Festival. While upstairs provided a pop-up performance space where writers including Jessica Fox and Debi Gliori read eithe…

Nomanslanding

Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …