facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11
Are you missing theatre as much as we are? Support us now with Theatre Tokens and see your favourite shows when they reopen. #IMissTheatre

Great Expectations

Published 7 February 2013

When it comes to the opening scene of Great Expectations, rarely do you expect to be greeted by anything other than the bleak marshlands described in the initial pages of Charles Dickens’ 19th century novel, where Pip first encounters the fearful Abel Magwitch.

This is not the case in Graham McClaren’s touring production currently playing at London’s Vaudeville theatre, which goes against our usual expectations by turning the chronology of Dickens’ classic tale on its head.

We wouldn’t usually have even met Miss Havisham, let alone known about her death in the opening stages of the story, but, as middle-aged Pip begins to tell his tale, we are plunged straight into the miserable abode of the lonely spinster. Standing within the decaying grandeur of her manor house, Pip begins to relive his journey from poor deprived orphan to eligible gentleman through a series of flashbacks; the older version of himself looking on from a distance, providing short sections of retrospective narration that reflect the first person perspective of the original novel.

All of the action takes place within the walls of Satis House, where the chandeliers are sheathed in cobwebs, the tarnished wedding cake lies festering on the dirt-covered table and the actors become partially concealed by the haze of dust floating in the stale air of the dining room. You can almost smell the must spilling into the auditorium.

Changes of mood and location are reflected in Kai Fischer’s lighting, which fades from cold blue to warm red as the story shifts from Pip’s hostile encounters with Paula Wilcox’s icy spinster to his affectionate relationship with Josh Elwell’s sensitive Joe.

Wilcox is a suitably haunted Miss Havisham, while Grace Rowe channels a strong fiery independence into her performance as her adopted daughter Estella. Jack Ellis conjures a classic patriarchal Dickensian figure as egotistical money-grabbing lawyer Jaggers, Chris Ellison, as Pip’s mysterious benefactor Magwitch, has both the menace and dignity of Dickens’ notorious convict, and James Vaughan’s performance strays from the prolific writer’s well-known tale into another Victorian classic, bestowing an element of the Mad Hatter to his performance as the eccentric Mr Wopsle.

Taylor Jay-Davies makes for a naïve and vulnerable young Pip, while Paul Nivison’s role as the narrator allows us crucial glimpses of Dickens’ epic novel like the weekly periodicals in which it was originally published.

Share

Sign up

Related articles

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.