Review: Great Expectations, Yvonne Arnaud Guildford

Great Expectations, Charles Dickens, Nichola McAuliffe, Theatre Touring UK

“A gentleman should never be discourteous”

At the heart of Tilted Wig’s new version of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations is the real box of delights that is James Turner’s set design. Endlessly practical (much needed for a touring show) and versatile in its use of space, I reckon it could either be marketed to IKEA for its storage solutions or to the London housing market as a bijou starter home!

Frivolity aside, it really does epitomise the playfulness of Sophie Boyce Couzens’ production which uses a cast of eight, plus a musician, to depict the coming-of-age of young Philip Pirrip with an elegant take on its theatrical invention. The focus is on storytelling – narrative interjections split between the company, the switch between the multiple characters they all play evoked with simple but effective change of an accent or hat or suchlike. Continue reading “Review: Great Expectations, Yvonne Arnaud Guildford”

Review: St John’s Night, Jermyn Street Theatre

“Don’t forget about the goblin in the attic”

Written early in his career in 1852, Ibsen’s play St John’s Eve (or St John’s Night as it has been retitled here in this translation by James McFarlane) was so poorly received that it was brushed under the carpet somewhat and not even included in his collected works. Following on from last year’s successful version of another neglected Ibsen piece Little Eyolf, director Anthony Biggs returns to the Jermyn Street Theatre to see if lightning can strike twice by giving St John’s Night its UK premiere. This may have been a preview but for me, I’m not so sure that it did succeed, instead reminding us why some plays are left to collect dust.

This is very much an example of the playwright-in-progress , being unlike any other Ibsen play that I know, as it is a fairy-tale comedy, taking influence from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream but putting a decidedly Nordic spin on it. The play is set on a Norwegian farm whose ownership is unclear after the death of Mr Berg. Berg’s second wife lives in one house and is trying to secure the inheritance for her daughter by finding a good marriage and she invites her chosen victim Birk, with two of his friends, to join in their midsummer revels. Berg’s ageing father and naïve daughter live in another, older house on the estate which happens to have a resident goblin upstairs and when the young people decide to take their party up to a mystical hill, the goblin – a Puck-like figure – spikes their drink with a potion that unlocks all sorts of hidden memories. Continue reading “Review: St John’s Night, Jermyn Street Theatre”