Through December 11|
CHARLES DICKENS’ GREAT EXPECTATIONS Andrews Theatre/Irish Classical Theatre Company
Charles Dickens is known as a novelist, this time of year for “A Christmas Carol.”
But, he was a keen social critic, based on his own poverty-stricken family roots and their time in debtors prison.
His “Great Expectations” is filled with poor people, really poor or unable to get ahead no matter how hard they work.
At the core, this is a wish fulfillment story, a kid believing there is money and some day he will get it.
It’s the time of novelist Horatio Alger, another wish fulfillment writer, boys who strike it rich, through “pluck.”
While Dickens is known for Victorian-era length novels, playwright Neil Bartlett had to trim the story…a lot…for his “Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations.”
If you want the full story, the book is widely available.
At the heart of the story is Pip (R. J. Voltz), an orphan being raised by an aunt and her husband, a blacksmith in a small Kentish community.
He falls in with some really bad people and with the local rich woman, Miss Havisham (Josephine Hogan), dressed in her standard worn out wedding dress because the groom never showed up on the wedding day.
She puts up the money for Pip’s apprenticeship.
Pip also meets Havisham ward Estella (Lissette DeJes+ŭs), the love of his life.
Pip suddenly gets rich when the slimy lawyer Jaggers (Adam Yellen) surfaces and turns him into a gentleman playing hard in London (where else?) while refusing to explain where the money is coming from.
Who cares? Is the lawyer’s response.
As the story shows, Jaggers isn’t fussy about his clients.
Dickens wrote by the word and finished his books well after the first chapter was published by a magazine.
Sometimes you have the feeling he would have preferred to go back and straighten out all the eccentricities in the novels.
Bartlett gets the chance to simplify the story for the stage.
Of course, there is the situation so common in smaller theaters that one performer plays more than one part and that can get confusing, as it is here.
Director Chris Kelly has to deal with this.
He has a strong cast, Voltz, Matt Refermat’s Herbert Pocket, Charmagne Chi, Hogan and Yellen.
He’s working with Collin Ranney’s complicated staging needed in the ICTC and getting people on and off.
The one weakness in the show is that it’s occasionally campy.
You will notice that, in the flow of a show worth seeing and marveling at Dickens and his complicated storytelling.
That’s “Charles Dickens’Great Expectations.”
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