This Lent, Cokethorpe audiences were treated to a spectacular production of Great Expectations. This impressive piece oozed atmospheric apprehension, from the beautifully crafted set, to the unique lighting and sound design, all shot through with standout performances.
We followed the journey of Pip, superbly played both by Tom Orton (Second Form, Swift) and James Shaw (Fourth Form, Harcourt), as he lurched from one fortuitous calamity to another. His haunting encounter with the ominous Magwitch, Sam Carter (Third Form, Queen Anne), set the tone as Pip scampered across fog swept fens. His introduction to the terrifying Mrs Havisham, exceptionally performed by Scarlett Howard (Fifth Form, Gascoigne), decaying in white wedding weeds and bitter remorse, commenced his infatuation with the cold Estella, also brilliantly portrayed by both Ella Dalton (Fourth Form, Swift), then Isobel Ponsford (Fifth Form, Gascoigne).
From here we were taken through a fever dream of vignettes and characters, right up to the exciting, yet poignant finale. The large supporting cast of Chorus were superb in their professionalism, leading the audience through the complex storyline. There were some very strong supporting roles, from Ben Wardell Yerburgh (Fourth Form, Queen Anne), George Kinniburgh (Fifth Form, Harcourt), Ella Mattinson (Fourth Form, Harcourt), Grace Ettinger (Third Form, Harcourt), Orlando Cox (Fourth Form, Vanbrugh) and Jamie Wehrle (First Form, Queen Anne), playing Orlick, Jaggers, Mrs Joe, Biddy, Herbert and Wemmick respectively.
The costume design was exceptional as usual, and the stage and lighting crew have never worked so hard with a rapid turnover of scene changes. This was a slick and highly professional production, which was steeped in the heady gloom of Dickens’ original tale. The audience were deeply affected by this excellent study in revenge, regret and slender hope.