The Shawshank Redemption – Cast Photos

I can’t count the times that I have watched The Shawshank Redemption over the years. The film is a household favourite for both me and my husband, a classic film that remains in our top five of all time. From the iconic 1994 movie and the 1982 Stephen King novella, Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption, comes the stage adaptation by Owen O’Neill and Dave Johns. The stage adaptation is doing a tour of the UK and playing at The Alexandra from the 7th of November to the 12th of November 2022.

The 1994 film starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman was nominated for seven Academy Awards. The story focuses on Andy Dufresne who despite protesting his innocence is given a double life sentence for the murder of his wife and her lover. Andy finds himself sentenced to life at the Shawshank Facility where he befriends prisoner “Red” and finds a way to survive on the inside.

The audience are immediately transported to the formidable Shawshank Facility, Designer Gary McCann, with supportive lighting by Chris Davey. Throughout the play the audience are kept within the four walls of the Shawshank Facility, only getting a taste of freedom when we see the sea and sunset at the end of the play. This powerful adaptation stars Joe Absolom as Andy and Ben Onwukwe as Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding. The chemistry between these two actors transcended my expectations as they both captured the essence of true friendship.

It would be hard to imagine anyone else in the role of “Red” but Ben Onwukwe held the audience in his hands, narrating the story with heart and soul, making “Red” his own. Ben Onwukwe delivered a memorable performance. There is no “Red” without Andy and Joe Absolom gave us a sensitive, mysterious, courageous Andy, which the audience supported from start to finish. The prison mates and guards of the Shawshank Facility were well cast, talented and impactful to this renowned story, from the corrupt Warden Stammas (Mark Heenehan) and Hadley (Joe Reisig) to antagonists Rooster (Samargeย Hamilton) and Bogs Diamond (Lee James). The audience were captivated by Brooksie (Kenneth Jay), Rico (Jules Brown), Dawkins (Kieran Garland), Tommy (Coulter Dittman) who all added humour and light to the play. The Shawshank Redemption is a story about people, humanity and hope which exploded to life on stage.

Directed by David Esbjornson, this stage adaptation is exactly what I was hoping for. Just like the infamous film, the production had me gripped from start to finish. Even though I knew every part of the story, this adaptation made me feel like I was seeing it for the first time. The Birmingham audience gave the cast an instantaneous standing ovation at the end of the night. I was not sure what I was hoping for when I came to see the stage adaptation of one of my favourite films but it delivered just what I wanted and more.

This is a timeless piece of theatre and not one to miss.

DT

Thearetastic 5/5:

We say: “A captivating adaptation of a classic.”