This highly stylised and imposing production brings Dickens’ tale of shattered dreams and suffering to life in a fresh and spirited way.
The atmospheric music playing as we took our seats helped to create the right melancholy mood. It’s gothic style and inventive staging ensure this play is not a reproduction of Victoriana or a boring retelling of the novel.
The older Pip (played superbly by Paul Nivison)is onstage throughout, watching and reacting to the life of his younger self (an astounding performance by Taylor Jay-Davis). This helped as it made us focus on Pip and his journey and not get side tracked into the other characters who are all a vital part of the tale, but it’s their interactions with young Pip that we concentrate on. This means the story has a tightness adaptations sometimes lack. Dickens can be so vast the central thread gets missed. This production is to be applauded that it never looses sight of whose story and expectations we are to follow.
It is a sad tale, with many a shattered life on display, the struggles they face and the triumphs and twists that life throws at them mean my attention was kept throughout.
The entire cast gives strong performances. Josh Elwell as Joe Gargery was especially touching and he had some wonderful comic moments in Act 2 as the servant. Jack Ellis as Jaggers, was dark and imposing yet his revelation at the end of his broken dreams was a real metaphorical punch to the solar plexus.
Substantial female performances came from Paula Wilcox as the mentally unstable Miss Haversham and Grace Rowe as the loveless Estella gave memorably dark performances.
As I mentioned this is a heavily stylised production, the costumes are amazing and the use of cobwebs on them to denote that what we’re watching is in the past was a cunning touch.
I didn’t have many expectations on going to see this, I was expecting a dry and frankly boring retelling of Dickens tale. It did take a little while to pick up its pace but once it had I was treated to one of the most creative and exciting productions I’ve seen in a while. Go to http://www.showsinlondon.co.uk/show/great-expectations-0 for tickets.
STARS : * * * *