Red Shift's Carter could do with a cutting edge

PUBLISHED: 11:35 26 January 2006 | UPDATED: 20:19 03 May 2010

Get Carter

Get Carter

WELL did I Get Carter? No I didn't but not because the storyline of the production at The Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans on Friday was too sophisticated to decipher. While Ted Lewis' book of the same name went on to become a hit movie, the gangster-fe

WELL did I Get Carter? No I didn't but not because the storyline of the production at The Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans on Friday was too sophisticated to decipher. While Ted Lewis' book of the same name went on to become a hit movie, the gangster-fest did not lend itself quite so readily to a stage setting, even though the Red Shift Theatre Company actors did a fine job. In fairness, I do think the edgy Michael Caine in the classic film version of Get Carter is a hard act to follow but the lantern-jawed Jack Lord was woefully miscast as Jack Carter. As the London gangsters' enforcer who returns to his roots in the north to investigate and avenge his brother's death, I can't imagine him frightening a fly unless it was of a particularly nervous disposition. Kieron Jecchinis, however, who played no fewer than six punchy characters, managed to convey a ruthlessness and tough-guy machismo which was totally believable. The lithe and lovely Angela Ward was every inch the seductive gangster's moll and clearly much more at home with a femme-fatale role than that of an abused adolescent. Many of the fine, intentionally comic moments in this production were provided by Daniel Copeland, who also played six characters and was sublimely funny in the role of the gay Peter the Dutchman, wearing what looked like a cross between a mop and a Harpo Marx wig. Sally Orrock also exuded comic charm in her three parts as sleazy B&B hostess with the least, an elderly madam and flighty former spouse of Jack's murdered brother. It was interesting to note the subservient role of the women in this 70s' "roller coaster of loud, bruising theatre". They are either nymphomaniacs, madams or abused adolescents. However, maybe this production could have been vastly improved by some judicious cuts (not of the knife variety I hasten to add). If it had been half-an-hour shorter it would have been so much more enjoyable but by the end I could feel the audience's fidgeting reach frantic proportions. Some of it reminded me of Pulp Fiction - mainly in the way the violent sections caused titters of amusement instead of shocked silence. Hey, but the music was great - even though it was a trifle on the loud side but it worked well in the recreation of the atmosphere of the 70s. MARY BROSAN

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