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Little Women review at Duchess London

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Emma Reeves’ smooth flowing adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s stories of the March sisters growing up in New England, draws on both Little Women and Good Wives, taking the girls from adolescence to romantic fulfilment. Played out in the intimacy of their attic room – a flexible, two-level setting by Rachel Payne – it perfectly evokes family bonding, with its tensions and tantrums, and Civil War privations.

Since the first London fringe stagings in 2001 the roll call for Andrew Loudon’s production has grown from nine to 13. Revived at Sadler’s Wells two years ago it now reaches the West End with six new faces among the cast.

Sarah Edwardson again dazzles as brunette Meg, beauty of the family, who happily weds penniless John (Tim Fessler) despite opposition from moneybags Aunt March (Sarah Crowden), while Diana Eskell returns as the artistic Amy who ends up marrying Laurie (Paul Hampton) the boy next door.

Sweet-voiced Ann Micklethwaite reprises her fashionable Sallie Gardiner. Lizzie Conrad still glows with maternal pride as Mrs March. But newcomer Phoebe Thomas is perhaps a touch bonny as her youngest daughter, the sickly Beth, spending much of her time in bed until her slightly mawkish exit through the stalls.

Sarah Grochala’s attractive, starry portrayal of the coltish tomboy Jo, gradually takes hold as the gifted writer moves into womanhood and published success. And in this revival she is superbly matched with Daniel Betts as Professor Bhaer, plighting their troth in a summer storm – a romantic moment that moistens every eye.

Production Information

Duchess, London , September 27-January 15

Author
Louisa May Alcott, adapted by Emma Reeves
Director
Andrew Loudon
Producers
Novel Theatre by arrangement with Really Useful Theatre
Cast includes
Daniel Betts, Sarah Edwardson, Diana Eskell, Sarah Grochala
Running time
2hrs 15mins
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