Get Carter is a gripping, high intensity production about a criminal that returns to his hometown of Newcastle to find out who murdered his brother.
Based on the novel Jack’s Return Home by Ted Lewis, the stage adaptation uses innovative theatrical elements to bring the story to life. The set, designed by Leo Warner for 59 Productions, is a textured landscape. Amongst the detritus of the failing brick factories, the stage is littered with a mountain of bricks. A coffin is centered on stage, resembling Jack’s brother Frank’s death. The coffin is moved around to become the bar and other pieces of set interweaved within the performance, representing his lingering presence.
At the side of the stage is a drum kit, where Martin Douglas sits to play drum sets during the scene transitions. Douglas symbolises Frank, he is the image of Frank in Jack’s mind. Despite being silent throughout the show, his serene nature is the only sense of calm in the show which provides an eery disposition.
It’s a thrilling yet tense production, the lighting designed by Kristina Hjelm, is executed remarkably. The heavy use of shadows gives depth to the performance, for example each time Jack is on the phone, the woman on the other end is never seen but represented through an array of shadows. As Jack opens the show with his monologue, he is merely seen as a shadow, this feeling of unknown creates an uncomfortable atmosphere that sets the tone for the rest of the show.
Kevin Wathen takes on the role of Jack Carter and provides an outstanding performance. His dedication to the role creates a convincing character with the combination of his strong Geordie accent, menacing gait and slick dialogue. His anger, frustration and psychotic personality is conveyed excellently by Wathen’s characterisation.
His relationship with his niece Doreen, played by Amy Cameron, is complicated. Cameron portrays the young girl who is struck by grief and emotionally damaged after her father’s death. Her only drive throughout the play is to be at home where her dad once was, but due to a series of events unfolding and secrets being told, she ends up in trouble. The young actor Cameron gives an exceptional performance, she masters the balance of the character with her feisty front, yet her trembling and panicked exterior evidently shows how traumatised she is.
Each character in the production has a strong sense of identity, and as Jack roams around uncovering the criminal dealings that have occurred whilst he has been away, he comes across a multitude of shocking secrets such as violence, pornography and an abundance of criminal activity. Benjamin Cawley has crafted the role of Jack’s old friend Eric superbly, his soft and forgiving nature is communicated to the audience, although Jack still suspects otherwise and as the play continues his character progression reveals that he is more than what meets the eye.
It is a production centered around criminals, so believe there is a need for swearing to depict the character’s aggressive tone, however I felt the swearing was overused, particularly in the first half. The language almost blinded the audience from the actual dialogue that was taking place.
Northern Stage’s production of Get Carter is a pacy and powerful performance with highly developed characters. It transports you into the works of inner city criminals and gangs, but most importantly the never-ending pursuit of revenge.
Get Carter is on at the Lowry until the 23rd of April and tickets can be found here.