DECLAN Donellan and Nick Ormerod’s adaptatin of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations for Cheek by Jowl was first seen in 2005, and praised as an ensemble re-telling of the familiar story.
Since then the writer’s fans have seen Dickensian, the clever reworking of various strands and characters from (and preceding) many Dickens stories into one sprawling whole.
Inevitably, the recent television series has slightly confused expectations, as much of Great Expectations as the other books it included. So at the Digby Hall in Sherborne there were tsome who were surprised by the very different appearance of the dastardly Mr Compeyson and unconvinced by the true “Dickensian” story of Miss Estella’s provenance.
The style of the adaptation moves the action on at a fine pace, with little set and no break between scenes. The only braking element is the narration, in Bev Taylor-Wade’s production at Sherborne, by Malcolm Cockburn’s “elderly Pip”,
Sticking faithfully to the story, the play is a helter-skelter run through the life of the orphaned Pip, picked up by Miss Havisham (whose cruel anguish was perfectly captured by Emma de la Poer), catapulted into the life of a gentleman and wracked by the identity of his benefactor.
Kit Stickland, who has already impressed at Yeovil’s Swan in Twelfth Night and The Crucible, embodied the older Pip after a great start by Harrison Parks as the younger boy.
In this huge ensemble cast there were particularly memorable performances from Jack Evans as Herbert Pocket, Steve Crumpler as the kindly Wemmick, Colin Hart as the ever-loveable Joe Gargery, Rosie Taylor-Wade as young Estella, Jonathan Roberts as Jaggers and Adrian Harding, playing the convict Magwich as an incomprehending bear of a man.
The company included APS regulars and some first-timers on the stage. Congratulations to them all
Footnote. Thursday 28th April: Kit Stickland has just been accepted to join the National Youth Theatre.