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Great Expectations review at Watford Palace

Tanika Gupta has devised an original and bold take on Dickens’ story of the struggle between the classes. This production is set in India, and Pip’s attempt to better himself takes on a racial/political slant as he first apes, and then becomes disillusioned by, the ruling British Raj.

Tariq Jordan moves comfortably from young Pip, the village boy overawed by Lynn Farleigh’s impressive Miss Havisham and Simone James’ ice-cold Estella, to the aspiring English gentleman in Calcutta, advised and befriended by Giles Cooper’s hugely appealing Herbert Pocket. Jordan displays convincingly the awkwardness Pip feels in each situation, conveying how difficult it is to be neither one thing nor the other.

The class struggle is not simply between British and Indian. Magwitch is a black convict (masterfully and movingly played by Jude Akuwudike) and Estella is Miss Havisham’s adored “African Princess”.

The Indian setting gives the story a number of fascinating angles to explore and this production is fresh and intriguing. The play is long, with occasional slow moments and numerous distracting scene changes. A rather sparse set reflects the paring down of Dickens’ sprawling novel, but the message is powerfully and emotively conveyed.

Production Information

Watford Palace, February 17-March 12, then touring until May 7

Author
Charles Dickens, adapted by Tanika Gupta
Director
Nikolai Foster
Producer
Watford Palace Theatre and English Touring Theatre
Cast
Tariq Jordan, Jude Akuwudike, Simone James, Tony Jayawardena, Lynn Farleigh, Giles Cooper, Rob Compton, Russell Dixon, Pooja Ghai, Shiv Grewal, Darren Kuppan, Kiran Landa
Running time 2hrs 40mins

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