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Great Expectations (Tour - Darlington)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Great Expectations, tells the story of Pip who believes his mystery benefactor to be Miss Havisham and covers his early life up to adulthood and love for her daughter Estella.

So there is a lot of ground to cover, from the marshes in the dead of night to London therefore a stage adaptation seems a bold move. But this version of the Dickens Classic was conceived and Directed by Graham McLaren, who sets all the action in Miss Havisham’s dining room. The set by Robin Peoples, looks magnificent when you walk in to the auditorium, complete with crumbling wedding cake and cobwebs galore.

However, when the adult Pip (Paul Nivison) arrives with Estella (Grace Rowe) and they start to remember their past, it is clearly obvious that this set will be the bases for the evening and our imagination has to play a large part. While that in itself is not a problem on several occasions the costumes and actions of the large cast seen to be from a Tim Burton world, not a Dickensian one

Young Pip is well performed by Taylor Jay-Davies and the principles, Paula Wilcox (Miss Havisham), Chris Ellison (Magwitch) and Jack Ellis (Jaggers) make their character come alive. But by Act 2 the novelty wears thin and this fast paced and relatively short production, feels overly long.

The way in which the story is told is an interesting concept and a way of getting round the numerous scenes involved. But at times I just wanted the action to be somewhere other than in the grand dining room, no matter how effective the lighting was. That being said the scenes involving the reflections in the large mirror over the fireplace were memorable.


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