‘Re-imagining a classic is a courageous act’: GREAT EXPECTATIONS – Old Red Lion Theatre

In Books, London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Laura KresslyLeave a Comment

Old Red Lion Theatre, London – until 6 January 2018
Guest reviewer: Lara Alier

Re-imagining a classic is a courageous act. Tom Crowley’s adaptation follows the journey of a young man struggling to find his place in modern day England and it’s pervasive class system. This time we find young Pip living in a council estate with his mother, Jo. Yet his life turns upside down when he meets the hurt Miss Havisham, her daughter Estrella, and Madwycz, a hitman. These characters shape Pip’s ambition and help him to become a successful city worker.

Thanks to the nature of the space, Crowley provides us intimate close-ups of Pip’s relationships and how they change over time. Sarah Thom (Jo) perfectly captures the pain of being slowly forgotten by your child. Then, in a matter of seconds, she puts on a wedding dress to ensnare Pip as Miss Havisham. This exciting versatility is also shown by Maryam Grace, who shifts from a genuine Biddy to a heartless Estrella. Liam Bewley’s mastery of characterization also holds everyone’s attention religiously.

Watching the transitions between scenes is like watching another play, however. Fringe theatre is fascinating, yet there is nothing new in this production. When Pip goes to London, we see another Curious-Incident-of -the -Dog-in-the-Night-Time moment, with people walking mechanically to show how stressful London is. In spite of the enjoyable music, it is used in an obvious, indicative way. Instead of fully nurturing the piece, it pre-empts moments and imposes emotions.

Even though this piece isn’t challenging or surprising, it’s still a good chance to watch one of the great classics whilst enjoying a glass of wine.

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Laura Kressly
Laura is a US immigrant who has lived in the UK since 2004. Originally trained as an actor with a specialism in Shakespeare, she enjoyed many pre-recession years working as a performer, director and fringe theatre producer. When the going got too tough, she took a break to work in education as a support worker, then a secondary school drama teacher. To keep up with the theatrical world, she started reviewing for Everything Theatre and Remotegoat in 2013. In 2015, Laura started teaching part time in order to get back into theatre. She is now a freelance fringe theatre producer and runs her independent blog, theplaysthethinguk.com.
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Laura Kressly on RssLaura Kressly on Twitter
Laura Kressly
Laura is a US immigrant who has lived in the UK since 2004. Originally trained as an actor with a specialism in Shakespeare, she enjoyed many pre-recession years working as a performer, director and fringe theatre producer. When the going got too tough, she took a break to work in education as a support worker, then a secondary school drama teacher. To keep up with the theatrical world, she started reviewing for Everything Theatre and Remotegoat in 2013. In 2015, Laura started teaching part time in order to get back into theatre. She is now a freelance fringe theatre producer and runs her independent blog, theplaysthethinguk.com.

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