Friday, March 04, 2011

'Great Expectations' by Charles Dickens adapted by Tanika Gupta

4 March 2011

Last Saturday we were at the Watford Palace Theatre so see the Engish Touring Theatre production of Tanika Gupta’s stage adaptation of ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens. Relocating the story to India (though without changing the late Victorian period), Tanika Gupta emphasises the class divisions by making the villagers Indian while Miss Haversham, Jaggers and Herbert Pocket embody different aspects of the British Raj and Magwitch is a black convict from Cape Colony. This cleverly both simplifies the story and adds new elements of racism and colonial oppression. I thought it worked well and the set, costumes and music were spectacular. The decision to have the same adult actor play Pip as man and boy made the initial childhood scenes a little cartoonish but the second half of the play was darker and more realistic. Inevitably, dramatising a long and complex novel results in a rapid procession of short scenes and it was hard to forget that this was the play of the book. But it was an enjoyable and epic production.

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