Get Carter


Citizens Theatre




Script: three-stars Stagecraft: four-stars Performance: three-stars

A dramatic cacophony of bricks designed by 59 productions sets the stage… a dark sinister atmosphere, smoke swirling in the low artificial lighting. A drummer/ ghost brother on the far side.

We are at the brick pit where the protagonist Jack Carter (Kevin Wathen) had spent his childhood playing hide and seek with his now murdered brother Frank (Martin Douglas) and Frank’s childhood shotgun. So now he is back from swinging sixties London and seeking retribution.

This gritty production uses the same recording techniques as would have been used by Roy Budd who famously composed Get Carter’s soundtrack at the age of 23. This new arrangement of songs by iconic sixties Tyneside band The Animals was a collaboration between vocalist Nadine Shah, Ben Hillier and sound designer James Frewer. James explains, ‘Having a live drummer on stage drives the action; it’s very much the mechanics of the piece….as well as dark rhythmic progressions.’

The plot differs in many respects from the 1971 Michael Cain movie. Torben Betts was given ‘freedom’ to interpret Ted Lewis’ book Jack’s Return Home which Get Carter is based on.

Jack attends Frank’s funeral and meets Doreen, (Amy Cameron- Coronation Street,Casualty) his niece; he later implies that Doreen might actually be his daughter.

Victoria Elliott (Holby City,Truckers) puts in the best performance in her double role as Margaret (Frank’s evasive mistress) and buxom Glenda. Jack accuses Glenda of working for crime boss Cyril Kinnear (Michael Hodgson- The One and Only ) and Kinnear’s rival dodgy amusement arcade machine entrepreneur Cliff Brumby (Donald McBride – George Gently,Vera).


Jack encounters old gangster associate, Eric Paice (Benjamin Cawley- Shetland, Dr.Who, Doctors), who refuses to tell who is employing him as a chauffeur but Jack soon discovers he works for crime boss Cyril Kinnear. Confronting Kinnear who is playing poker seems like a dead end but he meets Glenda there. On a phone call to his boss Gerald Fletcher(Ed Gaughan)  Jack is warned against damaging relations between Kinnear and the Fletchers. Back in town, Doreen gives Jack a train ticket to leave …

Enquiring who gave this to Doreen he is given the name “Brumby”. At 2.30 the following morning Jack discovers Brumby knows nothing about him and, believing he has been set up, leaves Brumby’s home. Later, with Glenda in the brick pit, Brumby identifies Kinnear as being behind Frank’s death and accuses Kinnear of trying to take over his business. He offers Jack £5,000 to kill the crime boss, which he flatly refuses and then pushes Brumby off the edge to his death. Next Jack is shown the porn movie of his niece Doreen with Albert and Glenda but Jack doesn’t knife Albert Swift in Betts version of Get Carter, he gets Margaret to suffocate him with a cushion before killing her in a shadow murder almost out of view at the very edge of the stage.The lighting designer Kristina Hjelm superbly sets the eerie atmosphere in the run up and eventual demise of Jack Carter. Eric survives his attempted murder, perhaps because he has a misses and a 6 month old baby? And so does Glenda.

A very different take to the classic movie. This adaptation portrays a less ruthless version of Jack who is shown to be a more caring villain with a murmur of a conscience whom, according to artistic director Lorne Campbell, ‘ is a sick man within a sick landscape.’

  Reviewer : Clare Crines




Posted on March 11, 2016, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: