Get Carter Review

An adaptation of Ted Lewis’ work, originally written as Jack’s Return Home and later produced for film under the title Get Carter.

By Manchester's Finest | 27 April 2016

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It’s been said that fans of the film will miss many of its iconic moments in this, Northern Stage’s adaptation of … Jack’s Return Home – confused?


The play is an adaptation of Ted Lewis’ work, originally written as Jack’s Return Home and later produced for film under the title Get Carter. The director, Lorne Campbell, combines the two to give an audience insight into the principal characters external and internal voice.

If anything Campbell has produced a two for one package as he discusses the advantage of combining two art forms:
‘In cinema, the camera can place a sick man with a sick landscape. A novel can place both protagonist and world inside the reader’s mind. Theatre, I think has to try and exist in some space between these forms, part narrative, part image, part internal, part external, at least that is what we have been reaching for’.
Get Carter tells the story of Jack, a man who returns home to bury his older brother. He wants to pay debts, settle scores and discover who killed his brother.

As the local underworld closes ranks, Jack’s bosses back in London find out that Jack has had his fingers in the till, and other places they shouldn’t have been. Jack plays a deadly game of cat and mouse as everyone tries to get Carter.

Torben Betts is the man who took and reinvented the original work of Lewis. He discusses the process of re-imagining such an iconic piece of literature and film.

‘What was more interesting to Lorne and myself was to look at how we could re-imagine this very well-known narrative. To look at Jack’s environment growing up as he did in a brutalised post-war world. The sense of landscape is very much a feature of the novel and clearly we are allowed much more insight into Jack’s thought process in the novel than we are in the film. I wanted to look at the kind of man Jack Carter is; why he became the way he did.’

The film adaptation of Lewis’ work is said to be the origin of British noir and, even as an adaptation of the novel, there’s a strong sense of the genre’s style in this production’s landscape reflected in set design, costume and music.

Campbell and his creative team capture the absolute essence of this criminal underworld. From billowing smoke – vast silhouettes projected behind haunting action, to a dead man drumming out beats as its principal music score, Campbell has seamlessly brought screen and page to stage in this portrayal of a classic.