Sunday, 6 March 2016

Partings Welded Together

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” - Charles Dickens

"Softly, softly"

And so to the theatre. The West Yorkshire Playhouse are once again on trend. In deciding for the second time in a couple of years to tackle a long piece of nineteenth century literature that Hollywood has fairly recently made into a film, they have chosen one in which the issue of forgiveness (or lack of it) looms large. Their version of Great Expectations is, how shall we say, pretty average. On the plus side, top marks must be given to the child actors playing the young Pip, Estella and Herbert Pocket who were all much better than one was entitled to expect. And then there was the set, which looked fantastic, a sort of rising wave of slatted wood across the stage space. However, whilst it served very well for the prison hulks - lots of hands waving symbolically through it - it didn't seem to have much relevance to the other two and a half hours and appeared to cause the actors real problems moving around on it. It rotated often and there seems to have been some intermittent malfunction causing delays to the start of each act which, when the play was originally three hours long anyway, gave rise to lots of people having to leave before the end to get their trains and buses. I moved for the second act to be nearer the door for a quick getaway and was advised that the seat I now sat in had a 'restricted view' and wasn't recommended. In fact it had an unrestricted view in that one could see the stage hands at work setting up the next scene behind the revolving scenery. Note to designer: keep it simple next time.

So, overall, don't bother. Instead watch one of the films (I enjoyed the most recent, which has Helena Bonham-Carter hamming it up as Miss Havisham) or, even better, read the book.

 “I went home, with new matters for my thoughts, though with no relief from the old.”

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