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Great Expectations review at the Old Red Lion Theatre, London – ‘funny and gripping’

Joshua Asare as Pip in Great Expectations at Old Red Lion.

Writer and director Tom Crowley’s felicitous 21st century adaptation of Great Expectations turns Dickens’ beefy Bildungsroman into two hours of funny, gripping theatre, staged with inventive economy in the petite confines of the Old Red Lion.

The set comprises simple white shelving units that suggest the interiors of Pip’s cramped council flat in Kent and the swanky London apartment into which he moves when bestowed, by an unnamed benefactor, with a bulging bank account and a full scholarship to study law at LSE. Tables on casters neatly, though noisily, differentiate between scenes.

The cast, most playing double roles, are excellent. As Pip, Joshua Asare winningly modulates from uncertain youth with an Estuary twang to patrician Pimlico student, beset by ambition and self-doubt. Maryam Grace plays the enigmatically frosty Estella and unaffected Biddy with wonderful freshness, while Peter Wicks’ Bentley Drummle carries the air of effortless superiority and boundless arrogance perennially fostered by the English public school system.

He’s also oafish Orlick, here reimagined as a sexually resentful colleague of Pip’s police sergeant mother Jo Gargery (Sarah Thom). As Miss Havisham, Thom boldly pushes the Gothic grotesquery. Full of clever detail (Magwitch is Polish mercenary Magwycz), this is thoughtful, witty theatre.

Verdict
Superbly-performed adaptation of Dickens’ tale raises pertinent questions about wealth and class

Production Information

Production
Great Expectations
Venue
Old Red Lion
City
London
Starts
December 12, 2017
Ends
January 6, 2017
Press night
December 13, 2017
Authors
Tom Crowley
Director
Tom Crowley
Set
Clancy Flynn
Lighting
Clancy Flynn
Sound
Odinn Orn Hilmarsson
Costume
Clancy Flynn
Cast includes
Joshua Asare, Maryam Grace, Sarah Thom, Christopher Goh, Liam Bewley, Peter Wicks
Producer
The Heritage Arts Company
Running time
2hrs