"One of Dickens most prized works comes to life in this dynamic theatrical display. Great Expectations is one of Charles Dickens' most beloved yet complicated stories. It follows the boy Pip, as he grows up from an apprentice blacksmith in the forges of Devon to a gentleman in amongst the cobble streets of London. Along the way he runs into convicts, vengeful women, twisted lawyers and fair-weather friends, but ultimately must learn the price of true friendship and what it is like to lose what you love.
This production has a mystical feel, completely becoming of such a tale. I was blown away, first and foremost, by the intricate and instantly recognizable set; Miss.Havisham’s dishevelled manor. It was just on the right side of intimidating and really set the tone for the production. The costumes were also something of a wonder. Everything seemed so beautifully tailored to not just the actors, but the characters and the dream like and circus-esque feel to the show.
The performances were amazing all round, there was not one that I could really fault. At some moments, certain characters felt less believable or real than others, but it did not let the shown down at all. It was such a ensemble piece that if one actor’s performance was to slip in one place, another would bring it right back up again. I must single out Paula Wilcox (Man About the House, The Queens Nose), whose rendition of Miss Havisham just swam with different emotions. You could honestly feel them all. I feel I should also mention James Vaughan, whose performance as Mr. Wopsle and later on, Mr. Wemmick, were outstanding. His characterization was impeccable and bent just perfectly to fit in with the nightmarish theme.
The use of the set was highly imaginative, something I have never seen in a West End show before. There seems to be so much money thrown at some high end shows, that people forget to utilize the space they have and own it, but not this show. The transitions between scenes was so smooth, almost cinematic in a way, that the fact that there was no set change at all did not matter. Another credit to the actors performance. I have never seen a table become so many things or be used in so many ways, a credit to the director and their wondrous imagination. There was a lot of impact and punch to the show, whilst keeping a whimsical and fictional feel to the tale.
Overall I would say that this is a show not to miss. It is such a beautiful reworking of a complex classic, that it is something that should not be avoided. This being its theatrical outing (besides the very recent UK tour), it seems like a challenge that has paid off. It was a joy to sit through and a wonderful way to enter the world of Charles Dickens."
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