A human’s ability to survive the most awful of circumstances makes for compelling watching.
And it is particularly poignant when the story line is powerful, and the acting is first class and gripping.
Experienced producer Bill Kenwright is bob on with his interpretation of the 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption, which runs until Saturday at The Festival Theatre in Edinburgh.
The excellent play is made all the better by the brilliant acting from equally experienced Joe Absolom as Andy Dufresne and Ben Onwukwe who plays his side kick Ellis “Red” Onwukwe.
Designer Gary McCann’s simple set which revolves around the Shawshank maximum security prison is a perfect base to tell the story of two very different men, who through circumstances, strike up an unusual, but beautiful friendship.
Middle classed banker Dufresne jailed for a double murder he didn’t commit, is easy prey for hardened prisoners Bogs Diamond (menacingly played by Jay Marsh) and Rooster (Leigh Jones), part of The Sisters gang, who prey on weak inmates.
As Dufresne tries to adjust to his new life, the boys gang rape and beat him, but Andy always fights back and his friendship with old timer Red, helps him to survive the harsh times.
Time marches on and Andy realises that his life can be made easier if he helps out sinister Warden Stammas (excellently played by Mark Heenhehan) and prison officers Hadley (Joe Reisig) and Entwistle (Owen Oldroyd) with their financial problems.
Andy begins to plot his escape, unwittingly helped by Red who provides him with a rock hammer for his pretend hobby of studying stones.
The hammer, instead is used to create an escape hole, covered by a huge poster of film star Rita Heyworth and through a sewer and one day the prison awakens to find Andy gone.
During his time inside, Andy helps out fellow inmates Tommy Williams (Coulter Dittman), Brooksie (Kenneth Jay), Rico (Jules Brown), Dawkins (Kieran Garland) and Kelly (Sammarge Hamilton) and they in turn try to help him win parole, only to find it has been turned down by Hadley, determined to make sure Andy isn’t released and able to reveal the warden’s shady financial deals.
Andy gets his revenge by leaving damming evidence in his prison cell and as he enjoys life on the run, his captors are themselves captured.
And he rewards his friendship with Red by hiding away money for the day he is paroled and eventually the two are brought back together on the outside.
It’s a gritty tale, played out with real humanity which will have you on the edge of your seat and willing the underdogs on.
For more information and ticket availability for The Shawshank Redemption, please visit: www.capitaltheatres.com.
Rebecca Hay is an experienced travel writer and member of The British Guild of Travel Writers. Follow her adventures with her family on Twitter and Instagram @emojiadventurer and on Facebook via EmojiAdventurers2.
Photographs courtesy of The Shawshank Redemption