Review: Great Expectations

Michael Hindmarsh is impressed by this dark take on a Dickens classic.

Bristol Old Vic Bristol theatre Great Expectations

Bristol Old Vic until the 2nd November.

Tickets: £10

Above all else, Neil Bartlett’s dark adaptation of Dickens classic Great Expectations is sure to send a shiver down your spine.

A strange and disturbing encounter with an escaped convict leads to a chain of profound changes in the life of a young orphan, Pip. Drawn into the twisted plans of a jilted bride, and showered with money by a secret benefactor, Pip is soon able to pursue his wildest dreams.

Featuring one of the most frightening death scenes you’re likely to see on stage, Great Expectations did not disappoint.

Adojoa Andoh as Miss Havisham, the iconic eternal bride, successfully created a despicable yet pitiable character who tortured the protagonist throughout.  Timothy Walker was also excellent as the menacing Abel Magwitch.

If there was a weakness to this adaptation, it would be Tom Canton’s portrayal of Pip as a boy during the early scenes. At times he sounded a bit like a whining toddler complaining about his dinner when more restraint needed to be exercised.

Similarly, Laura Rees’ portrayal of Estella was flawed. It was far too aggressive. By the end I found Estella to be exceptionally irritating, when I should have been intrigued by the coldness of her heart.

Overall, the play lived up to my great expectations. The staging was creative and there were some truly talented actors on display.




With special thanks to JM