Call me a snob and you’d be partially right, but I am always open to being enlightened. I only recently discovered the delights of Northern Stage, as I had always been drawn towards, the Theatre Royal or Sunderland Empire. The ones that seem to bring in the big shows. Then two years ago we nearly haemorrhaged at the cost of tickets to the Panto for a family of four. Catherine suggested Get Santa (not related) at Northern stage instead, as a family ticket was around £50. It was a bargain and the production and show blew me away. I had naively assumed the “smaller” theatre wouldn’t have been as good. Since then we only look at the “Panto” at Northern Stage, as its unique quality sets it apart. Anyway.
Get Carter – Northern Stage
Catherine piped up mid dinner at Antico, “Do you fancy going to see Get Carter at Northern Stage Dad?”
You may recall that we’d been out for Abigail’s Birthday and Catherine had started to enjoy the red wine.
“Look there’s still tickets!”
She’d started to book tickets online, on her phone, with a slow unresponsive connection (bear with me there is a point to this rambling intro).
“There, it’s booked!”
Cat, her Dad, Brother and me had been looped in to see Get Carter. Her Brother was a huge fan of the film, I on the other hand had never seen it.
We arrived with around 10 minutes to go, bursting for the loo, I ripped off a ticket and said I’ll meet you in there if you’ve gone in. They hadn’t they were still at the bar. So we all went in to sit together. Cat had started to look for row numbers from the back, to which I thought she was crazy as the ticket clearly said A20 (front row near the middle). Turns out she was right, the remaining tickets were Row L 12 – 14. The moral here is don’t try to book four tickets while drunk on an iPhone.
As I mentioned before the production at Northern Stage has so far blown me away. The attention to detail is more than I could have expected and the stage set up for Get Carter was no different.
The stage was backed with a huge brick wall, with an archway which gave way to a large overspilling pile of bricks. My photo really doesn’t do the set justice and from the front row it was hard to get a wider shot. The Archway dripped water, while smoke / mist funneled through. The setting gave it a dark sinister feel to it. I sat in the front row, next to a man from South Shields, who commented that he loved being in the front row as you really feel part of the action. With the ambient backtrack and eerie feel I was starting to think I was too close to the action.
A coffin rested on two trestles in the middle of the stage.
The music stopped and the lighting changed on stage Jack Carter walked on stage, talking to his dead brother Frank. Although Frank was dead (in the coffin) the spiritual Frank that remained on stage throughout was sitting behind a drum kit on the right of the stage. This visual allowed Jack to talk to his brother and recount lengthy monologues about his life. Something didn’t seem to add up with the way his brother had died, so Jack takes it upon himself to get to the bottom of it and avenge his death.
Although the stage set up limited the visual situations, the acting and presences took you from Family Home, to Pub, to casino, to Seaside pier. Being closer to the action did make me feel more involved, which as the play and store gets quite violent wasn’t always the most comfortable. One scene in the first half sees Jack visiting an old “friend” at a casino, where he starts to piece together more details about his brother. Everyone leaves and as Jack lets spill a mouthful of expletives, he whips a green table cover from a table shooting several hands of poker across the stage. Or from where I was sitting, into my forehead, neck, chest and lap. This would have made a souvenir if a stage hand hadn’t been collecting them up at the interval.
Without spoiling the show or giving away too much, I will say I sat there gripped by every character and was totally immersed into the gangland darkness of Newcastle’s past. The violence was tolerable, the language was very expletive and the story telling was second to none. Kevin Wathen (Jack Carter) carried the character effortlessly and you could really feel his passion for the role throughout. We were amazed with amount of script he was involved with, as large chunk of the dialogue with between him and his dead brother.
We’ve already recommended this to several friend to keep an eye on the tour. It will be back in our region mid April at Durham’s Gala Theatre.