In honour of the 200th anniversary of his birth, the Genesian Theatre is celebrating all things Dickens this month. Most notably, they are performing an adaptation of one of his most famous novels - Great Expectations. The enthralling tale of the orphan boy, Pip.
Gimblett's cleverly constructed dialogue remains authentic to Dickens and the era, while always comprehensible to the audience. Where possible, he has lifted his words directly from the text.
Nevertheless, to adapt such a complex and detailed story is an ambitious undertaking, and required ruthless editing. I suggest lovers of the book attend with an open mind, willing to accept the play for what it is, rather than comparing and contrasting every detail. As the program warns "In adapting a 480 page novel for the stage it is inevitable that some conflation will be required and some characters omitted."
The crew rose admirably to the many challenges presented by this intricate plot. Ingenious movable sets, supported by excellent costuming, effortlessly transported the audience between vastly different locations. From the humble cottage and smith, to the eerie graveyard, to the splendid manor house - every location conveys its unique style.
The stand-out performance was given by Martin Searles. His portrayal of Joe Gargery - Pip's brother-in-law and guardian - was truly outstanding. In his manner and gestures, he conveyed far more than his words ever could, and in so doing truly brought this steadfast character to life. A newcomer to Sydney and the Genesian, I certainly hope he will favour us with his presence in many productions to come.
I was also particularly taken with Nicholas Pond's energetic portrayal of Herbert Pocket - Pip's tutor and friend.