Thursday, 5 May 2016

"Great Expectations" by Inspire Academy
Nottingham Council House.

The setting for this Charles Dickens' classic gothic novel couldn't have been more suited to the beautiful Grand Ballroom of the Nottingham Council House.

One one side was the enigmatic Miss Havisham in her chair and the other side of the ballroom was Pip's family home, making the several trips to and from the two places seem distanced, giving a realistic and spacial feeling to the scenes.

Young Pip (Carter Pateman) meets Magwitch (Luke Boyden-Jones) and arranges to get files for him to release himself from his chains. A real nasty piece of work, and Luke really threw himself into the role perfectly, not holding back with the threats to the terrified Pip.

Later Young Pip is summoned by Miss Havisham (Maisie Caro) up to the house and he meets Young Estella (Lily Widdowson) who berates him and tries to make him cry, which he refuses to do. He goes back to his family, Mr and Mrs Joe (Adam Brookes and Fran Hess), a wonderfully mismatched couple, but then again opposites attract, so they say.

It is arranged for the elder Pip to live in London as a gentleman and he is looked after, monetary and property-wise by Jaggers (George Bartram) who's a prominent lawyer who represents Miss Havisham as well as Pip's benefactor.

When the now adult Pip (Kurtis Lowe) visits Miss Havisham again he falls for the now adult Estella (Maddie Storey). Estella announces she is to be married to Bentley Drummie (Jack Staples) which enrages Pip.

Pip later discovers that Magwitch is his real benefactor, after Magwitch enters his life again. He and Estella again meet when he returns to the ruins of Satis House and she asks for his forgiveness and they are united.

Director Luke Gell, and assistant director Fran Hess, have created a beautiful piece of theatre, full of atmosphere, keeping loyal to the story. Obviously there are things that would have been difficult to stage, like Miss Havisham's death by fire, but you didn't need to see it and the trimmed story didn't seem to affect the flow one bit.

The sensitive lighting created blocks of performing space, splitting the large area which gave the impression of cinematic scenes fading in and out before your eyes. The haunting celtic music added to the periodic ambiance. Both light and sound created by Lewis Jones. Even down to the cast having bowls of water to create the sound of the water lapping around the boat showed the thought that had gone into creating just the right atmospherics.

The acting from everyone was amazingly good. The diction from George Bartram as Jaggers was incredibly mature and authoritative and i loved the OCD of constantly washing and drying his hands showing incredible attention to detail,

Maisie Caro was actually quite scary as Miss Havisham. The incredible concentration and pompousness shown in her face was wonderful to behold. Again, a great maturity beyond her years, and only came out of character when taking the final bows to smile broadly.

Everyone showed this maturity and none more than young Carter Pateman as young Pip. You believed the terror he felt when he first met Magwitch, and you also felt on edge with Luke Boyden-Jones' portrayal of the early Magwitch.

Pip the elder had a dual role as narrator while young Pip's story was being acted out, and Kurtis Lowe's performance shows that he has a credible future as an actor.A confident and strong leading man.

Other cast members were Tamara Hirst (Biddy/Molly), Conor Beastall as Jaggers clerk Wemmick, an under rated role but played with great panache, and Charley Carter (Camilla). Everyone of them gave a brilliant performance.

I read the book at school but seeing such a wonderful performance as I had the pleasure of, made this classic just that little bit more special. The whole feel was hauntingly good. The calibre of actor coming up through the ranks of Inspire Academy is phenomenal if these are anything to go by,

You've one more chance to catch this classic masterpiece performed by Inspire Academy on Friday night at the Nottingham Council House.

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