|Martin Searles, Lachlan Edmonds-Munro and Nicholas Pond shine. Pic Craig O'Regan
Audiences at the inner city Genesian Theatre are currently enjoying Roger Gimblett’s entertaining world premiere production of his stage adaptation of Charles Dickens’s classic novel GREAT EXPECTATIONS.
Dickens’s novel sweeps across a large period of time, spanning the life of Pip from a naïve, innocent 8 year old boy living in the Thames marshes through to his spending time with an eccentric elderly lady Miss Havisham, where-in he falls in love with her daughter Estella, to his time becoming a gentleman in London after he comes into a small fortune from an unknown benefactor, then to his eleven years as a businessman in Cairo, and finally to his return to London, where, again, he and Estella cross paths.
Gimblett adeptly transforms an epic 380 page novel, with some judicious cutting, into a compact, authentic two and a half hours of stage time.
Right from the start the director/adaptor fuels the production with drama. It is a star lit night in the Thames marshes, and a young Pip who is scared out of his wits by a coarse convict Magwitch (well played by Tom Massey), who jumps out of the stage floor.
Gimblett maintains the dramatic tone though through the play though he also finds plenty of humour in Dickens’s sometimes melodramatic style.
A feature of the production was its adroit theatricality. The adaptation sees locations change constantly and with Owen Gimblett’s clever mini moveable sets, the audience always knows where it is!
A later scene, where convict Magwitch attempts to flee England by sea and is caught by the Constabulary, is well captured theatrically with Michael Schell’s creative lighting providing a ripple water effect on the boat.
Another deftly directed and lit scene is the well placed final scene prior to interval where on opposite sides of the stage Tom and Pip are waving goodbye to each other as Pip makes his big move to London.
A large, ensemble cast assuredly play Dicken’s eclectic array of characters. There are seamless transitions from Sam Seccombe playing the young Pip to the take-over by Lachlan Edmonds-Munro, as there is with Kira Zaher and Alexis Ward playing the younger and older Estella's.
Ros Bilbe, a regular performer with the Genesian Theatre who first strut the boards at the theatre back in 1990 in 84 CHARING CROSS ROAD, shines playing one of Dickens’s most memorable characters, the deeply flawed but yet one still feels so sorry for her!, Miss Havisham.
Expect to be greatly entertained! Roger Gimblett’s production of GREAT EXPECTATIONS opened at the Genesian Theatre, 420 Kent Street, Sydney on Saturday 26th May and has a long season, running until Saturday 30th June, 2012.
(c) David Kary
2nd June, 2012
Tags: Sydney Theatre Reviews- GREAT EXPECTATIONS, Charles Dickens, Genesian Theatre, Roger Gimblett, Owen Gimblett, Sam Seccombe, Lachlan Edmonds-Munro, Kira Zaher, Alexis Ward, Ros Bilbe, Nicholas Pond, Martin Searles, Michael Schell, Craig O'Regan, Sydney Arts Guide, David Kary.