Months of hard work and planning culminated in a large crowd accept the invite ‘Come One, Come All’ to the TS Circus version of Dicken’s thirteenth novel.
Great Expectations is hardly a light read weighing-in at over 550 pages and must have taken Peter Hynds considerable determination, perseverance and re-writes to condense the novel into two and a half hours of theatre.
In case you have managed to make it through your school years without being forced to read Great Expectations or even watching the film adaptation it can be summed up as:
A boy, Pip, is orphaned at a young age and taken in and ‘raised by hand’ by his angry older sister and husband Mr & Mrs Joe.
Joe is a blacksmith; Pip will be apprenticed to be a blacksmith; and that’s to be the end of it…
Ok maybe not quite that simple!
The early parts of the show saw the young Pip (Ben Langcaster) during his time living with his sister, Mrs Joe (Amy Westwood), and brother-in-law Joe (Robert Felstead).
The transition between Young Pip growing up to become adult Pip (Olly Webb) was pulled off with ease with both Langcaster and Webb bringing believability to the role with a little humour whilst maintaining the damaged persona the role required.
Pip, who is poor, meets heartless Estella (Emily-Jane Sheppard), who is rich and beautiful and the step-daughter of the eccentric recluse Mrs Havisham (Laura James) – who lurched around the Wyvern stage like a malevolent witch .
As he grows Pip becomes the beneficiary of an inheritance from an unknown person. The play then follows how this inheritance pulls him out of the working class life into the life of a gentleman and how Pip handles, or mishandles, his good fortune.
The simplicity of the staging left the audience focussing on the near flawless performances from this ensemble of twelve actors working beautifully together with Jake Lennox standing out on the night as one to watch for future performances with his portrayal of Herbert Pocket.
This production of Great Expectations is a well-directed and well-acted piece that in my opinion was way more enjoyable than slogging through 183,349 words.
If Peter Hynds and his team fail to put on this version of Great Expectations again and you were not in the audience last night, you missed out!