Great Expectations at Playground Theatre

Great Expectations

Great Expectations at Playground Theatre is Theatre Lab’s latest offering. The story is a classic story by Charlws Dickins and adapted by Lydia Vie. It tells the entwined tale of wealthy property owned Miss Havisham, her daughter Estella and orphan Pip who falls for her. Slowly the mystery of Pip’s benefactor and why all of the clocks at Miss Havisham’s house are stuck on twenty to nine is revealed.

Theatre Lab are renown for their visually striking shows and after seeing Great Expectations I can understand why. As you enter the auditorium the cast are frozen on stage in semi-darkness. Atop a once grand long dining table is Miss Havisham with the rest of the cast dotted around, ready to come to life. The set is dressed beautifully to hint at what is to come whilst still allowing the action to flow throughout the play.

The macabre atmosphere is heightened by the lighting design and the chilling choice of music throughout the piece. The music choice is not what you would expect from this show but the irregularity of it makes it sit all that more uncomfortably and serves to heighten the atmosphere.

Denise Moreno took on the role of Estella and we saw her develop from precocious young girl to an admired married woman before our eyes. Moreno encapsulated Estella’s icy heart and air of superiority perfectly, enabling the audience to both understand why Pip had such feelings for her but at the same time willing for him to break the spell she held over him. Pip played by Samuel Lawrence saw his own transformation, from a Blacksmith’s apprentice to a Gentleman and from a loving friend to Joe to someone afraid to communicate with him for fear that he was now below his station. Lawrence ensured that the audience brought into his journey and delivered it with a reassuring air about him.

The rest of the cast remained steady in their interpretation of the script. My main criticism would be that I sometimes found Fanny Dulin’s Mrs Joe slightly shouty and this meant that I struggled to catch all of her dialogue and her Molly slightly lacking in feeling.

This production of Great Expectations has succeeded in ensuring that this classic text remains accessible to all and brings the story to life through a visual feast for the senses.

Great Expectations is running until 29th December. For tickets visit their website.

If you like this review you might also like my review of The Red Shoes at Sadlers Wells, The Snow Queen at Park Theatre and Death of A Salesman.

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