Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Beyond Expectations, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Sally Stott.
Estella is one of Dickens’ most well-known characters, and now she gets her own play. Only, apart from a few additional scenes, this imaginative adaptation – from young company, Untold Theatre – pretty much tells the story of Great Expectations as we know it. Shifting the focus from the socially climbing blacksmith’s boy, Pip, to Miss Havisham’s nonplussed child prodigy is an interesting idea – one that repositions Estella as a protagonist, rather than a pawn in everyone else’s plans. It’s a carefully structured adaptation that impressively manages to distil the original story in 50 minutes, but the company could be bolder in giving us a deeper insight into the girl with a mission to “break hearts”.
Whether it’s Estella’s disparaging remarks about Pip’s ungainly boots, comments on his stumbling dance moves (“a perfect fool”), as he tries to persuade her he’s a gentlemen, or the ever acerbic Miss Havisham, the eternal bride, it’s Dickens’ observational dialogue with all its wit and spark that reminds you why this is such an enduring tale. Simple but striking costumes and innovative projections create a stylised Victorian London, while narration by the lawyer Jaggers moves things along until, eventually, Pip and Estella have the chance to break free of those controlling their fates.
Greenside @ Infirmary Street (Venue 236) until 15 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 10 August 2015
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