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Great Expectations (Birmingham)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
One of Charles Dickens most famous and much adapted stories, Great Expectations is a complex story of friendship, dreams, love, wealth and class. Set in the early 1800’s, the story centers around young Pip, after a meeting with a pivotal character, Magwitch, changes his life. The plot unfolds as his meeting with elderly spinster Miss Havisham and daughter Estella continue to change Pip’s life in such a theatrical way that only Dickens could achieve.

Jo Clifford’s adaptation is a triumph. With her added value of an adult Pip (Paul Nivison), acting more so as a narrator to some of the more confusing scenes is a welcome addition. Set in a flashback style, he explains where young Pip is, from a point of view that is directly accurate. A clever, yet simple addition that sheds a new spin on the classic tale.

Taylor Jay-Davies, a young actor that plays Pip perfectly. From young and vulnerable to a wise and confident gentleman, his understanding of the character is an immense treat for the audience as his conviction shows his dedication and ability to interpret such an iconic character.

Paula Wilcox tackles Miss Havisham with terrific conviction. Cold and witch-like, her misunderstood persona is displayed by Wilcox with an eerie and sinister look that works perfectly. Jack Ellis as Jaggers is as eccentric as ever. His presence is somewhat appreciated to lighten the mood of the occasional somber mood.

A special mention must be given to Robin Peoples and his wonderful imagination that leads to a magnificent set. Coupled with Kai Fischer’s lighting display, the pair have achieved magical special effects and a mood-setting aurora that adds to the dark, yet appropriate scenes. Costumes by Annie Gosney and Graham McLaren are outstanding. Fitting for the style and nature of the play, the exquisite and careful designs can be fully appreciated  with the beautiful lighting and set.

Catch the Great Expectations tour around the UK before a West End season.

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