TWO of television’s leading men take on iconic roles in a major new stage production of The Shawshank Redemption at The King’s this week.
Celebrating the 21st anniversary of a film that has been tagged ‘the nation’s favourite movie’ are BBC One’s Doctors star Ian Kelsey and Casualty actor Patrick Robinson.
Kelsey, who, having hardly been off our screens for over two decades, has become one of TV’s best loved and most prolific leading men, leaves the role of practice manager Howard Bellamy in a closely guarded storyline next month.
Right now, though, he can be found at the Leven Street theatre playing Andy Dufresne, a banker who, having been handed a double life sentence for the brutal murder of his wife and her lover, finds himself incarcerated in the notorious Shawshank penitentiary.
Unflinching in his protests of innocence, Andy strikes up an unlikely friendship with the prison fixer Red, played by Robinson, and things take a slight turn for the better.
However, when Warden Stammas decides to bully Andy into subservience and exploit his talents for accountancy, a desperate plan is quietly hatched...
Kelsey, who also starred in Emmerdale and Casualty, recalls, “I was two days off set from Doctors when the phone call came in.
“I couldn’t believe it. I finished at 12 o’clock on the Tuesday night and I thought I would have the summer off, easily have two months off.
“And then the call came in on the Thursday and I couldn’t say no to Andy and the Shawshank.”
Based on the Stephen King story and the Oscar-winning 1994 film, the play co-stars Robinson, best known for his role as staff nurse-turned-consultant Martin ‘Ash’ Ashford in Casualty, a role which he first played from 1990 to 1996, before he returned for a guest appearance in a two-part special in 1998.
He then reprised his role in 2013 for a year.
Robinson is keen to point out, however, that taking on such iconic roles means more than just trying to recreate what Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman did in the film.
Adapted from the novel, the piece has some differences.
“We’re on our own path, our own trajectory... we’re not playing Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, we’re playing Red and Andy and it’s from the book, it’s been adapted from the short story by Stephen King, and there are differences in the film to what’s in the short story.
“It’s a bit like saying, I played Romeo, how many actors have played Romeo in their lifetime?
“And this is the same thing, but it’s what you bring to the role as an individual.”
The Shawshank Redemption, King’s Theatre, Leven Street, until Saturday, 7.30pm (matinees 2.30pm), £15-£30.50, 0131-529 6000