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The Shawshank Redemption review

Assembly Rooms

© Douglas Robertson

One of the biggest theatre shows of the 2013 Fringe is this new adaptation of Stephen King's novella, famously made into an Oscar-nominated film in 1994 starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman.

It's hard to go wrong with such a well-crafted story, which is likely to have even the most hard-hearted punter desperately rooting for a bunch of criminals.

Andy Dufresne arrives at Shawshank prison in America having been given two life sentences for the brutal murder of his wife and her lover (although he maintains he is innocent). It's here that we witness life on the inside, in all its brutality, sadness and struggle. But there's also strong bonds built and Dufresne, with his petition for a proper library and his help in educating some of the younger inmates, begins to make a significant mark on prison life.

It's a simple staging from Lucy Pitman-Wallace, with four huge metal towers moved around to make different parts of the prison - from the cells, to the outside yard, to the warden's office - and nicely evoking the inmates' drab, chained existence.

Omid Djalili leads the cast as Red, the man who can get you anything, and plays the character with a weary wisdom and a sturdy American accent. Elsewhere, the cast are also strong and Kyle Secor's quiet, thoughtful Andy draws you in to the internal struggle of a man impotent in the face of an unfair system.

Owen O'Neill and Dave Johns' adaptation stays as true as they could be to King's original narrative, while also keeping the production to an hour and a half. Although there are moments which feel rushed, this is regularly powerful stuff.   


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