Actors Who Have Served Their Time Bring Jail Hell Alive; THEATRE

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), May 17, 2009 | Go to article overview

Actors Who Have Served Their Time Bring Jail Hell Alive; THEATRE


Byline: Michael Moffatt

Preview: The Shawshank Redemption

Gaiety Theatre until June 20

It's quite an achievement for Lane Productions to have got top TV and movie actors for their production of Shawshank Redemption, which opens at the Gaiety on Tuesday. The role of the Mr Fixit prisoner Red is played by Reg Cathey, and Kevin Anderson will play Andy Dufresne, the wrongfully imprisoned lawyer who uses his wits to beat the system.

Cathey is probably best known for his role in the groundbreaking TV series The Wire, as Norman Wilson, the top adviser to the ruthless mayor Carcetti, while Anderson was the nice-guy drama teacher opposite Julia Roberts in Sleeping With The Enemy.

And among the minor roles is Keir Dullea, who had a flight-long battle with the computer Hal in 2001, A Space Odyssey.

Nonetheless, film buffs may compare it unfavourably with the movie, and Stephen King fans may not like what's done to his novella.

So when I spoke

So when I spoke to Owen O'Neill, who adapted it for the stage with David Johns, I wondered if he had been influenced by the film.

'I think it was in the back of my mind, but it was far back, because, once I read the novella, I realised it was a great story that could be told in any form. We wanted to make this a big theatrical experience and I'm glad it's on a big stage, because this production needs it. The staging is ingenious. There are 23 in the cast, 14 speaking parts, and the rest are guards and various people moving around.

'Breda Cashe and Pat Moylan from Lane Productions and the director, Peter Sheridan, went to America to cast it because we wanted American actors for this.

'Good as the Irish actors are, and they are excellent, it's nice for the audience to know that these guys actually are Americans. They bring a kind of authenticity to it.'

They have kept the idea of using Red, the wily prison inmate, as a narrator.

'I've been very careful to make sure the narrations are kept to a minimum, because it's always better to show than to tell. Red is a clever, articulate guy and getting little successes keeps him alive and sane. Reg Cathey is a wonderful actor, with a great voice.'

Cathey is a genuine all-rounder, who as well as roles in numerous TV and films, including S. …

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