sábado, 19 de novembro de 2011

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Loved by legions of fans and featuring in poll after poll of the best ever movies ever made, the 1994 adaptation of Stephen King’s story packs an undeniable emotional punch. But as a stage translation - well, it works, but only just.

One problem is the look of the show which, although claiming to mine the source text, appears to seek to replicate the film at almost every turn. Most obviously, star Kevin Anderson looks like a clone of Tim Robbins, who first portrayed the banker Andy Dufresne in the film, holding onto hope amid prison brutality as he faces a double life sentence for a murder he didn’t commit. And while Reg E Cathey brings enormous depth and a quiet dignity to the role of the narrator friend Red, it is hard not to be reminded of Morgan Freeman in almost every sardonic, gently stoical aside.

What this stage adaptation, which brought the house down in Dublin when it was first shown, does bring is a boiled down intensity to King’s story. It is tightly directed by Peter Sheridan, who brings the hellish claustrophobia right up to our noses, via familiar but nonetheless shocking prison tropes - beatings, sexual attacks and endless, airless labour.

Of course, populating the stage with an ensemble of ten or so lags can give the impression that you’re watching a group of lads on a football tour and not a stinking prison full of hardened cons. And even the few people who haven’t seen the film might still be aware of the story’s joyously redemptive twist involving a poster of Rita Hayworth.

But then again, it is an unquestionably moving and life affirming tale and while it is hard not to feel that a DVD rental could do the trick just as effectively, you’d be hard pressed not to leave the auditorium with a glow of hope in your heart. I bet quite a few fans will be doing that over the next few weeks in what ought to prove a box office smash hit.

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