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Review: Great Expectations, at Old Red Lion Theatre

Powerful adaptation of Dickens’ novel brings Pip into the 21st century

02 January, 2018 — By Katie Harris

THIS 21st-century adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic opens in a churchyard with Pip (Joshua Asaré) visiting the graves of his father and sister. A meeting with fugitive Magwycz (Liam Bewley) marks the start of Pip’s journey from council estate to riches.

The play follows Pip’s adventure and the cosy venue adds to the feeling that the audience is right there with him as he moves from cramped council flat in Kent to a smart London apartment provided for by an unnamed benefactor… along with a full scholarship to study law at LSE.

Simple white shelving units provide the backdrop to a talented cast of six actors who take on 11 characters between them. Sarah Thom is police sergeant mother Jo Gargery and Miss Havisham, the jilted bride who still wears her wedding dress. Maryam Grace is Biddy and the beautiful Estella, raised by Miss Havisham to be heartless, who Pip quickly falls in love with despite her coldness to him.

The show – written and directed by Tom Crowley – has the audience laughing out loud from the start and keeps the humour going throughout. Both Peter Wicks, who plays Orlick and Bentley Drummle, and Christopher Goh as Herbert Pocket and Compeyson, deliver some particularly funny lines in their roles.

There is a serious sense too as the play explores themes of ambition, wealth, love and morality. The emotional final scene of the two-hour show moved members of the audience to tears in what is a powerful adaptation of Dickens’ novel.

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