Great Expectations is possibly one of Dickens best known novels. Tilted Wig productions and Malvern Theatres bring this production to Coventry as part of a national tour.
We first meet Pip as a small boy at the same time as he runs into an escaped convict. Despite the trouble this could lead him into Pip helps the man who is eventually caught. Soon after Pip is invited to visit Miss Havisham where he is instructed to play with her adopted daughter Estrella. Over time the relationship between these 3 grows. Suddenly Pip receives word that he is to have a benefactor and become a gentleman, it is then that life really starts.
The action unfolds almost as being told as a story read from the novel directly to the audience. There are times of narration from various cast members and times of action and dialogue. There is a slightly stylised feel to the production as the set is a large box with ladders and opening sides to change the scene from the forge cottage, Miss Havisham’s house, a pub in London and many more settings. This stylised feeling is also added to by the cast creating all the sound effects in full view and an always present accordion player.
The cast of 8 is small in comparison to the number of characters in the story. All but Nichola McAuliffe (Miss Havisham) and Sean Aydon (Pip) play multiple parts. Distinguishing between the characters with only minor costumes changes wasn’t an issue, partly because the characters are so well defined by the writing, but mainly because the actor’s mannerisms, accents and portrayals were all on point. Estella (Isla Carter) was wonderfully confident and spiteful as child but then showed the damaged side later as an adult. The contrast between Joe Gargery and Wemmick was handled with style by Edward Ferrow who softened your heart to the humble Joe. James Dinsmore deserves mention not only for his Pumblechook and Jaggers but also for lighter hearted moments as Aged P and a brief spell as a lady, depicted only by a fan. Of course, Estella isn’t the only character to age during the story, Sean Aydon took Pip from a common little boy to a London gentleman with apparent ease. Apart from Pip probably the most well-known character is Miss Havisham. Nicola McAuliffe was captivating in the role, with a detached but controlling air and an almost childlike glee when things are going as she contrives. Her presence commanded the stage, never more so than in her first reveal and her last scene.
Overall this is a faithful telling of the tale with a modern twist that helps to bring the story to life.
Love Midlands Theatre
Sharing the latest theatre news and reviews around the Midlands.