BRYONY Lavery’s new adaptation of Graham Greene’s dystopian novel Brighton Rock will be presented in a Pilot Theatre co-production with York Theatre Royal, where the premiere will be staged in the main house from February 16 to March 3 before heading out on tour.

Joining Lavery and director Esther Richardson in the production team are designer Sara Perks, lighting designer Aideene Malone, who lit the National Theatre's Jane Eyre, and Hannah Peel, the Northern Irish singer, musician, electronic composer and member of The Magnetic North, who has composed the soundtrack and will perform in the play in the opening run in York.

Greene's thriller is set in 1930s' gangland Brighton, where 'Pinkie' Brown, a teenage would-be gangster with psychotic tendencies, strives to hang on to his mob rule in the town. After the murder of Daily Messenger man Kolley Kibber (an alias for former gangster Fred Hale), 'Pinkie' is trailed by amateur detective Ida Arnold, who tries to save 'Pinkie's girl, Rose, from his violent behaviour.

Bryony previously adapted Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited for York Theatre Royal's inaugural production after its £6.1 million refurbishment in 2016 and now returns to the York theatre to adapt Green's novel at Esther's request.

"First of all, Bryony has an amazing sense of lyricism and poetry to her work," says the director. "Theatre, for her, is a space for the imagination to take root, and she has a great sense of economy and theatricality in her stage adaptations too. She was absolutely my first choice for Brighton Rock."

"I think there are going to be more adventurous moments in Brighton Rock, as opposed to the quieter palette of movement in Brideshead Revisited," says Bryony.

"I've adapted two wonderful writers in Waugh and now Greene, and another big contrast between the stories is that you were with 'the Poshingtons' in Brideshead, whereas with Brighton Rock, you're pretty much with the lowlifes, but there's a great love story in each of them, neither of which ends happily.

"Brighton Rock is set over a shorter time frame, which already helps the adaptation flow, while Brideshead has a longer time span, where people get older and another generation comes on. In Brighton Rock, it's all in one town; with Brideshead, it's spread over a continent or two."

Bryony builds her latest adaptation around the triangle of Ida, Rose and 'Pinkie' Brown. "So there are two other very strong lead characters as well as 'Pinkie'," she says.

York Press:

The Pilot Theatre and York Theatre Royal company for Brighton Rock. Bryony Lavery is pictured at the front with director Esther Richardson

"I've been avoiding the first film version with Richard Attenborough once I knew I was doing the adaptation as I wanted to go back to the book, though I had by mistake seen the second film version [made in 2010 with Sam Riley as 'Pinkie']."

Her interpretation of Rose's character encapsulates Bryony's adaptation. "Rose is a typically 'sleeper' character. People think she's passive and a victim, but I absolutely don't agree, and if I could have talked with Graham Greene, I think he would have agreed with me," says Bryony.

"I kind of want to leave it as a surprise for the audience, but what I'm revealing is 'the reverse', which is in the book, with Rose getting her full time in the limelight in our production.

"When 'Pinkie' pinches Rose's arm, and she says 'you can keep doing that', she can either be a victim or a masochist, and if she's a masochist, she's kind of running the show."

Greene's murder thriller retains its 1930s' Brighton setting. "It's a story of two teenagers that come from nothing and are incredibly damaged by being part of pre-National Health Britain," says Bryony. "All the Socialist initiatives came after the Second World War – which are now being sold off in the most heinous fashion.

"We're keeping it in the Thirties because I think it would be wrong to mess with it, so we have angels who have lost their wings, and we're doing a lot about the loss of hope, which is what I'm feeling now and I'm sure you are too."

Ida is key to Bryony's version too. "She's a crusading woman who believes in what's right and that will resonate with Me Too and all the campaigning that's come about after the Harvey Weinstein allegations."

Brighton Rock will open at York Theatre Royal from February 16 to March 3 and then will tour to Brighton, Colchester, Hull Truck Theatre (March 20 to 24), Cheltenham, Winchester, Watford, Birmingham, Newcastle, Mold, Derby and The Lowry, Salford Quays. Box office: York, 01904 623568 or at; Hull, 01428 323638 or