We chat to star of Brighton Rock Chris Jack
It may be celebrating it’s 80th birthday this year, but Brighton Rock, Graham Greene’s classic tale of murder and gang war is still going strong. To celebrate this milestone, Pilot Threatre and York Theatre Royal tasked award winning playwright, Bryony Lavery to come up with a fresh production to put on the road, which she has done to rave reviews.
Homegrown Mancunian talent, Chris Jack is one of the stars of this tour which finishes it’s run at the Lowry Theatre from May 22 – 26. Chris took time out from his hectic schedule to speak to our Chris Park about why the story remain relevant today.
For those who don’t know the story, tell me about Brighton Rock
It's a story about two 17 year olds, Pinkie and Rose who are drawn together in unfortunate circumstances. Rose can potentially topple a mob gang after a brutal murder. Ida Arnold is larger than life fearless force of nature, come detective, who seeks out the truth, and will not stop until justice is served.
Who do you play?
I play quite a few characters (which is one of the great things about being an actor). My main character is Phil, the mild mannered partner in crime to Ida. I also play several others, The Father (to Rose), Colleoni’s Man, The Registrar and a Dark Angel.
Why do you think it remains relevant?
I think the play on so many levels represents this generation, as well as the past. The things we often see on the news or read about in the papers. The play tackles issues such as Catholicism or religion in general, gang culture, teenage angst, all of the things which, wouldn’t necessarily sound out of place in 2018.
What is different about this production?
I think the main difference in our production is that the character of Ida Arnold is such a prominent figure. She is the determined inquisitive voice that we follow, whereas in the book, it was Pinkies. I also think having a culturally diverse cast brings the play into the modern era and is perhaps more representative of today’s society, whilst still staying true to the book and the storytelling.
How does the music of Hannah Peel segue with the action?
I think that’s because of a couple of things really. Hannah Peel’s music is sublime, it really captures the essence and the mood of the production, and in some parts, completely drives the piece. The movement director and also cast member Jenni Jackson, writer Bryoney Lavery and director Esther Richardson had a sense of wanting ‘dark angels’ (Pinkie’s conscience) present whenever Pinkie is onstage. This also meant that, as some scenes were very short, we could practically change scenery quickly and anybody could become dark angels at any given time, whilst the music played. In some productions you’ll hear ‘scene change’ music, in ours; the music plays an integral part throughout the whole of the play.
How did it feel performing the play actually in Brighton?
It was an amazing experience! I think actually seeing the pier, smelling that sea air and then going to the theatre that in itself was fantastic. The audience response was also quite special too. As you can imagine, the theatre was packed and I’m pretty certain I can speak for the whole company when I say, we wanted to do the story justice and enjoy ourselves at the same time, and I think we did just that.
The Lowry dates are the last, what is next for you?
I think some well-earned family time with my two little boys is on the cards! The hardest thing is being away from loved ones, but it’s so true when they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. I’m also due to reprise my role as Archibald Craven in ‘The Secret Garden’ at York Theatre Royal this summer.
You have performed in some iconic venues, where would you love to perform?
I’ve always wanted to perform at three venues, The RSC and The Royal Exchange, so my next target is The National Theatre.
Manchester’s theatre scene has changed so much over the last decade, what have your experiences been since you graduated from Salford Uni?
It’s been quite lovely really. It’s been nice to have been involved in so many varying projects over the years, and seeing how some of them have grown so much since their infancy. There is a quite a positive Mancunian theatre vibe I think and it only seems to be getting stronger.
You have the unenviable task of being a recurring bobby on Coronation St, with the new set having a police station, may we see more of PC Brewer?
I would love to tell you you’ll be seeing tonnes and tonnes of PC Brewer over the forthcoming weeks months and years, but the best I can tell you is, who knows! We’ll see what the future brings!
What acting challenges have you in your mind for the future?
I think I touched on it briefly but I’ve always wanted to work at The National Theatre and there are a couple of other projects I’ve got on the back burner which I’m looking to do in the not too distant future.
If you were a piece of rock, what would it say inside?
It would have to be one of those slightly freakishly large ones but it would say something like, Chris loves this rock almost as much as his sons. If that’s too long I would just go with, ‘Giz a cuddle’.
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