If you’re one of the three people on the planet who don’t know the events in Great Expectations, well there’s not enough space here to relate them.
However, briefly, simple country boy yearns for a better life and gets it, a jilted woman takes revenge on men, convict escapes to make good, plus murder, mystery, a fire plus some sort of redemption, and plenty more.
So many events that it’s necessary for a few characters to double as prologue and keep the plot to a manageable time.
But manage they do with minimal scenery (imagination always sets the best scenery) but wonderful costumes and enough top hats to stock a milliner. Plus of course a cast, in this case about thirty of them, some doubling for two parts, and all excellent.
Action really centres about the jilted Miss Havisham, played outstandingly well by Barbara Ingledew, with a glittering eye that the Ancient Mariner would have been proud of.
“Break their hearts and show no mercy,” she tells her protege Estella. And when it all goes wrong, “Who am I that I should be kind?”
Blacksmith Joe Gargery, Biddy and the convict Abel Magwitch are the three characters who earn most sympathy in a way.
Most others, including Pip, have flaws, but there’s a great acting pair in Jaggers, the lawyer, and Wemmick, his clerk, Reynold Leming and Brian Hudd respectively.
It’s hardly a happy ending, but close enough as everything is finally concluded.
Playing to a first night full house, this was a triumph and well appreciated.
And it’s off to the Minack Theatre at the end of July where they’ll hopefully reproduce the same successful atmosphere amongst the rocks, with the great sea view as a backdrop.
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Reviewer: Philip Horton
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, a Next Stage production directed by Ann Ellison, is showing at the Mission Theatre in Bath from 25th – 29th June at 7.30pm with a “Pay what it’s worth” matinee at 2.30pm on Saturday 29th June.