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Great Expectations - A First Class Theatre Experience

Published by: Douglas McFarlane on 14th Sep 2012 | View all blogs by Douglas McFarlane
Taylor Jay-Davies at the Orangery in Kew Gardens

I had absolutely no expectations, I thought as I was planning to go along to review Great Expectations last night. I hadn't read the cast, researched any detail about the play, I only knew what time and day.  We do live busy lives, and theatre can help you escape by taking you into a different time and place. Well, theatre that is, done by an incredible creative team and a team of talented actors. I'm always hopeful for a gem to appear before me.

As I read the programme on arrival, I was starting to get a good feeling about the play. Conceived and directed by Graham McLaren, as associate director of the National Theatre Of Scotland and adapted for stage by Scots playwright Jo Clifford, this production was already was starting to interest me. An array of well known TV faces were also cast including Jack Ellis (Coronation Street), Chris Ellison (The Bill) and Paula Wilcox (Man About The House).   Scanning further into the cast biographies, I noticed that quite a few had been trained at Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) including Taylor Jay-Davies (pictured above) who was playing the young Pip.

So, with a cast and creative crew like that, they now had my attention and I was wondering if they could deliver something unique.  In short, they nailed it.  Well, apart from one tiny moment when one of the actors cried out "line" in the midst of his wonderful over-the-top characterful vocals, a voice from the back returned the line, and in a split second he continued the monologue and delivered it perfectly. It was opening night after all, and it reminded me how high quality their performance was for a first night. The set is amazing and stunning to look at. There's a great use of a large table which divides the stage diagonally allowing for clever lighting to create different locations allowing the actors to flow from one side of the stage to the other. Very smart. The entire cast were first class actors young and old and the general flow, music and mood of the set was a credit to the incredible directing skills of Graham McLaren.

There's so many great things about this production that I'd suggest you get along to see it as it tours the UK before settling down in the West End. I can't promise you the free champagne and canapes to celebrate with the rest of the cast as I did in the Orangery at Kew Gardens, but I can promise that your expectations will be met at Great Expectations.

See the video below for a view of Richmond Theatre and Kew Gardens. The official website includes the eery music from the set.



  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 5 years ago
    Great to see you filling these pages with your words of wisdom again, Doug! Fab review too! Thanks.
  • Louise Gold
    by Louise Gold 5 years ago
    So glad to see such a great review for the show from Douglas McFarlane. I was also there for the press night and also loved it. However there is a mistake in the review. It was not James Vaughan nor indeed his character Wopsle that dried and recovered so brilliantly but a totally different character and actor. Let me declare an interest here as James Vaughan is my partner and so I feel particularly strongly that the record should be set straight. I would be most grateful if Douglas could ammend the review accordingly as I'm sure he will appreciate how important it is to an actor that this kind of mistake is corrected! All the best Louise Gold.
  • Steve North
    by Steve North 5 years ago
    I was about to post the same thing. It definitely wasnt James Vaughn but another actor who dried. Thanks for the great review Douglas, glad you enjoyed it.
  • Douglas McFarlane
    by Douglas McFarlane 5 years ago
    Thanks for all the comments and I've modified my review appropriately. Apologies to your partner Louise. Steve, I recognise your name from the cast list, so well done to you. It looks like a great production to be part of.
  • Paula Higgins
    by Paula Higgins 5 years ago
    Because I live in the U.S. I, sadly, will not be able to see this production. I was wondering though, how I might be able to purchase a copy of the programme.
  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 5 years ago
    THIS is why we work on the Internet. Interactive reporting at it's best!! Thanks for your comments, everyone! It seems that everyone was agreed that this was a great show.
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