The Shawshank Redemption based on the short novel by Stephen King adapted by Owen O'Neill and Dave Johns.

There is always a degree of trepidation associated with seeing a play that you have loved as a film, or indeed a film you have loved as a book.

Earlier this year I went to the Theatre Royal to see Twelve Angry Men with that feeling.

It is one of my favourite films and I was convinced that the atmosphere could not be captured on stage. I was totally and utterly wrong. It was a magnificent production.

With books I can be even more resistant. I have avoided seeing the film of Love In The Time Of Cholera and probably never will. It is too precious a thing as a book to be spoiled by a disheartening viewing.

The prospect of The Shawshank Redemption being brought to the stage at the Theatre Royal was troubling. Could they really do justice to such a movie masterpiece?

The answer - it was electrifying. All the emotions of the film - hope, degradation, integrity, fear and a degree of humour - were present on stage.

Ian Kelsey, as the wrongly convicted ex-banker Andy Dufresne, was superb.

The pace of his delivery and the clarity with which he presented the development of the relationships with inmates and prison staff made the show captivating.

Patrick Robinson, playing Ellis 'Red' Redding, sucked the audience into the prison world with his narration from the off and his portrayal never failed to connect.

He balanced realism with dark humour as the man who acquires everything from wines and chocolates to posters of Rita Hayworth and Racquel Welch for his fellow prisoners.

The pair worked just as well together as they did as individuals and also with the rest of the outstanding cast.

Owen O'Neill, as well as co-adapting Stephen King's book for the stage, took on the role of Warden Stammas.

The balance of evil heart and ruthless mind was wrapped up in exactly the right amount of religious packaging.

Ian Barritt as the ageing Brooksie was terrific as he brought across the terror represented by the world outside for a man who has served a life sentence in the gruesome surroundings of a state penitentiary.

All this, clearly, is down to some terrific creative direction from David Esbjornson, while Gary McCann's set is perfect as are the lighting and music provided by Chris Davey and Dan Samson.

Bill Kenwright, watching from the middle of a packed auditorium, must be delighted with his latest production.

This truly is a must-see show. Be advised though the film had a 15 certificate and the stage production contains the same strong language and scenes of an adult nature.

Tim Cole, The Shawshank Redemption runs at the Thames Street theatre until Saturday August 29. Evening performances Monday to Saturday are at 8pm with matinees on Thursday at 2.30pm and Saturday at 4.45pm. Tickets are available from the box office on 01753 853888 or by visiting the website