Last night The Tab enjoyed a night well out of our comfort zones; a sophisticated evening which was as far removed from the sights and smells of Jesters as humanely possible. We attended a preview of Theatre Group’s show of Dickens’ “Great Expectations”. And of course, somewhat predictably, we arrived with….great expectations!
If you are not familiar with the story of Dickens’ classic, it involves a young orphan, Pip (Chris Barlow), who grows up in poverty to become a wealthy gentleman, with classic parallel plot lines including unrequited love, murder, and mystery.
The play starts, somewhat bizarrely, in the foyer, with the audience mingling with the characters, immersing them in the production and adding superbly to the atmosphere. Location changes are an interesting part of this production, with the start of the second act also taking place in the foyer.
The lead performance of Pip was polished and slick from the outset, showing well the diverse range of emotions and characteristics Pip shows from in his rise from the gutter to gentry. Sadly, however, the character was somewhat let down by the inconsistencies of the narration, with both Pip and seemingly multiple narrators expressing his thoughts and observations, which led to misunderstandings about who was who.
The social makeup of the Victorian era was aptly shown in the way the various actors depicted the wide variety of regional and class-based accents, with Uncle Pumblechook’s being a Tab favourite of the evening – shout out for the cracking sideburns, which we are told by a reliable source are in fact real!
Costumes and make up were perfectly fitting, setting the period well amidst the simple set, along with some select musical choices that brilliantly added to the tone of various scenes well.
Special mentions are definitely in order for Alice Walsh (Miss Havisham) who portrayed her deep, mysterious and twisted character effortlessly, Luke Barrett (Uncle Pumblechook) who seemed immersed in his role, with gait and voice matching his character perfectly, James Forster (Mr Jagger) for the confidence portrayed in his role, and Robin Johnson (Joe), who stole the stage whilst taking some harsh beatings from Mrs Joe like a trooper.
We are very grateful to Theatre Group for letting us have this sneak preview, and definitely recommend that you take the chance to experience Great Expectations for yourself (well worth a night away from Jesters).
Great Expectations is running from Wednesday to Saturday (14th-17th November), at 7.30pm at the Annex Theatre.
Tickets are £6.50 for students or £5 for those with PA cards! Check out SUSUtv’s preview below: