Great Expectations

Charles Dickens adapted by Hugh Leonard
Baroque Theatre Company
Coronation Hall, Ulverston, Cumbria

Miss Havisham (Patricia Derrick) and Estella (Aislinn De’Ath) Credit: Phil Burton
Estella (Aislinn De’Ath), Miss Havisham (Patricia Derrick) and Pip (Michael Longhi) Credit: Phil Burton

An ambitious touring production of Dickens’s popular Great Expectations adapted by Hugh Leonard. Wonderful to see a cast of 12 actors from seasoned actors to a professional stage debut from Charlie Hobbs as Young Pip.

The set consists of three set pieces to form interiors and exteriors, nothing moves, so there are no lengthy scene changes which enabled the actors to set and keep up a good pace.

Michael Longhi as Pip and Aislin De’Ath as Estella played their parts with enthusiasm and skill, Charlie Hobbs’s Young Pip was a great conscience. Joe Gargery was well played by Mark Drake; the characterization was excellent—but those were not the arms, legs and torso of a blacksmith.

We all know the story of Pip’s rise from poverty to wealth and ultimately some humility and self realisation. The bitter and twisted Miss Havisham and cruel Estelle, Pip’s move to London, the slimy Mr Jaggers, Magwitch, the odious Mr Pumblechook, Pip’s cruel sister, Mrs Joe, and the lovely Biddy—both played by Helen Kennedy—I much preferred her Biddy, well you would wouldn’t you? Pip’s great friend, Herbert was enthusiastically played by Freddie Capper. Wemmick, Jagger’s clerk was a smooth and skillful Terence Vincent.

It all comes out well in the end doesn’t it? Well, apart from Mrs Joe, Miss Havisham and Magwitch and maybe Mr Jaggers.

Maybe I am just being grumpy but I did not really take to this production. The set was impressive and well used, it was so good to see a cast of 12 on stage, the audience enjoyed it so what was wrong? Was it me or the production? Was it the lighting which was pretty static and rarely used effectively to improve the mood or define the space? Was it because it everything seemed so amazingly clean, costumes, actors and props?

The tour runs until June.

Reviewer: Denis W McGeary