Great Expectations – Bristol Old Vic

GExpA group of us went to see this dramatised version, directed by one of our favourite authors, Neil Bartlett.

Just as Shakespeare’s plays were originally performed without a set, so was this. The intention was to let each of us have our own mental picture of what is going on, given that the words of both Shakespeare and Dickens are so descriptive.

Pip is essentially reliving and chewing over his memories – people appear and disappear owing to clever use of lighting –  so as bare minimum of props and characters (a sort of ‘chorus’) serves to bring these to life, as does amplified sounds, e.g. metal sounds of forge, anvil, money (BOV claims one of the best acoustics in the country).

The fire scene, with Miss Haversham, made the people in front of me nearly jump out of their seats. Very powerful. (Miss Haversham becomes scarier by the minute, gaining walking sticks and a reptilian appearance. Or, as the Guardian reviewer put it, ‘a malevolent white spider’

I’d forgotten how moralising and unctuous Victorians could be.

BOV is an intimate venue where actors can establish eye-contact with all in the 500-strong audience. It probably wouldn’t have suited the tastes of those in the Bath Theatre Royal.

I shall never forget the various moving doors – shall probably dream about them.

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