REVIEW: The Shawshank Redemption at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

Paul Nicholls as Andy Dufresne in the Shawshank Redemption. Picture by Mark Yeoman

Paul Nicholls as Andy Dufresne in the Shawshank Redemption. Picture by Mark Yeoman

The New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth

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The Shawshank Redemption play is based on a short novel by Stephen King (Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption) however most associate the tale with the 1994 film of the same name.

Frequently voted the nation’s favourite film, it was my love of the movie that persuaded me to go and see Bill Kenwright’s latest stage production.

Paul Nicholls impressed in the lead role of Andy DuFresne. At first withdrawn and understated, he captured the character’s ascendancy to top dog flawlessly. Ben Onwukwe was equally impressive as Red, the role made famous by Morgan Freeman, with his silky smooth dialogue and impeccable comic timing not dissimilar to his Oscar-nominated counterpart.

However the performance of the night came from Sean Croke as creepy prison sex pest, Rooster. He sent shivers down my spine with his chilling portrayal. Despite not having a lead, I couldn’t take my eyes off him whenever he was on stage.

But forget what landed the inmates in Shawshank, the real crime on the night was the sound. Despite sitting in the sixth row, I struggled to hear large portions of the dialogue, a viewpoint shared by many in the audience as I heard several complaints during the interval.

Fans of the book and film will not be disappointed, provided the volume is turned up.

Until Saturday.

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