Tag Archive | "Great Expectations"

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Feature: Bristol Old Vic Theatre School’s Patrons’ Prize

Posted on 26 September 2013 by Freya Smith

AYT caught up with Martin Bassindale and Lindsay Dukes, the 2013 recipients of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School’s Patrons’ Prize, as they embark on their first performance as professional company members at the Bristol Old Vic.

Great Expectations

What is the Patrons’ Prize?

Lindsay Dukes: The Patrons’ Prize is a wonderful scheme whereby two actors from the graduating year of Bristol Old Vic Theatre School are given – through the kindness of the Patrons – a sixth month contract as an actor at the Bristol Old Vic. We’re doing three months with Great Expectations, and then while we’re performing that we will be starting rehearsals for The Little Mermaid, which is the Bristol Old Vic’s Christmas show this year.

Martin Bassindale: Siobhan Bracke, who’s the casting director of Great Expectations, came to our final year showcase. From that, 10-12 people (including Lindsay and me) were short-listed, and we auditioned for Neil Bartlett, the director of Great Expectations. We also took part in a workshop in London where we met Simon Godwin, the director of The Little Mermaid.

LD: It’s great because Bristol has been home for me for the last two years, and now I can transfer to a wonderful theatre that I’ve seen several productions at.


How are rehearsals for Great Expectations going?

MD: We’ve just moved out of the rehearsal room and began technical rehearsals on Monday September 23rd. We open on Friday 27th! Lindsay and I have both performed there before in our graduate show so the auditorium and the stage are familiar. I’m excited, but not too nervous as I feel like I’m in very good hands.


Could you tell me a little bit about the production?

LD: The show is a wonderful adaptation of a very big and complicated book. It’s Neil Bartlett’s adaptation, and he’s managed to condense a very detailed story into something shorter, and accessible to everyone. Obviously he has had to cut certain elements, but he’s managed to remain true to the essence of the story. It’s quite simply staged, and there aren’t any massive set pieces; it’s very much nine actors working very, very hard to put across this story.

How would you compare training at drama school to working professionally?

LD: There are elements that are similar and I’m deeply grateful to the school for having prepared us so well. You learn professionalism to a very, very high degree at Bristol. You approach acting like you would any other job: you turn up on time, and you do the job to the absolute best of your ability. They work you very hard, but, because of the nature of where it’s located, and the nature of the teaching staff, you feel incredibly looked after and part of a family. Subsequently, the structure of rehearsals and the general attitude in rehearsals are things I feel very prepped for by the school.

MB: It’s felt very natural so far. The biggest change has been in casting; in drama school the older characters in plays are performed by your class mates putting on old voices or limping, whereas now the people playing those parts are the right age.

LD: We’re working with people who have a huge amount of experience,  which is nerve wracking! A lot of it has been overcoming the fact that you are essentially a baby again in this industry. And of course, every director you work with is different, but Neil is quite something – he brings a very special atmosphere into the room. He listens to actors and indulges them in a way that I haven’t experienced before, which is wonderful.


What are your long term goals?

LD: Just to stay in this caliber of work, really! I feel incredibly lucky to have gone straight from drama school into one of the most incredible working theatres – and the oldest – in the country. I’m working with top directors, top actors, and I’m being challenged – I’m playing three to four parts, all of which are very different, and straight after that I’m jumping into another job with the same theatre. I feel very lucky to be where I am now and if I could just stay at this level for the rest of my career I’d be very happy.

MB: I’d love to work at The Globe, The RSC (again), The National, The Royal Court… a world tour of something would be great!


What advice would you give to aspiring actors? 

MB: Keep as active as possible. See as much as you can, and when you do see something, don’t just watch the show, find out who made it, directed it, designed it, where the actors came from. You should build up a strong knowledge of theatre in the current climate.

LD: I think quite a few people go into acting not understanding how much work it is – not just in terms of reading the script and learning your lines, but the emotional work that it takes to audition and audition, and the psychological strength you need to deal with the amount of rejection that you have to handle as an actor. I would say: make sure that you want it, and that you really want it, and that you are therefore prepared to put in the work it requires.

Great Expectations runs from 27 September – 2 November at the Bristol Old Vic. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit

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Ticket Offer: £20 Best available seats for Great Expectations

Posted on 10 March 2013 by A Younger Theatre

We gave Great Expectations a great review when it was on tour, it is the first ever stage adaptation in London and we are giving you an AYT exclusive ticket offer. Sound good? Read the blurb below for some more information about the show or scroll down to see how to claim the offer.

great expectations

Great Expectations
Vaudeville Theatre, London

‘Wonderfully executed… darkly original and exciting… explosive’ A Younger Theatre

Great Expectations has finally opened to great acclaim in the West End, making theatre history as the first stage adaptation ever to be seen in London.

This production celebrates the best of Dickens’ writing with his larger-than-life characters, epic storytelling and the dramatic, emotional sweep through Pip’s life as he looks back on his young self.

Escape to a magical world where Tim Burton meets Charles Dickens

Watch trailer

Claim the offer
AYT readers can get £20 tickets for 12 and 19 March (savings of up to £30!) by quoting “YOUNGER20” either online at or by calling 0844 412 4663. Subject to availability.

Offer supported by The Dickens Legacy.


A Younger Theatre

A Younger Theatre

A Younger Theatre (AYT) is a platform for young people to express their views on theatre and performance. The site is maintained, edited and published by under 26 year olds who all have a passion for theatre.

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Ticket Offer: £10 tickets to Great Expectations on tour

Posted on 28 September 2012 by A Younger Theatre

We’re a bit London-centric at AYT, which is why we’re excited to be able to offer AYT readers from across the country the chance to get their hands on this ticket offer for the fantastic play Great Expectations. You can read what we thought of the play here, or skip the blurb below to find out which venues are taking part. Tickets for the best seats are £10 – bargain! (For other AYT ticket offers see our Ticket Offer page)

Great Expectations
Nationwide Tour

Graham Mclaren’s lavish, spectacular and unashamedly theatrical show brings some of the most memorable characters ever created to life.

The beautiful, chilling estella, the terrifying convict Magwitch, the manipulative lawyer Jaggers, the tragic, mysterious Miss havisham and Pip with his ‘great expectations’.

Starring Paula Wilcox as Miss Havisham, Jack Ellis as Jaggers and Chris Ellison as Magwitch. 


Ticket Offer:
£10 for best available seats (usually up to £35) will be available at the following venues:

Theatre Royal Brighton- Quote ‘Younger’ when booking on the phone or online.

New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham- Quote ‘Younger’ when booking on the phone or online.

Darlington Civic Theatre- Quote ‘Younger’ when booking. Redeemable on the phone when calling 01325 486555

The Mayflower, Southampton- Quote ‘Younger634′ when booking on the phone or online.

Aylesbury Waterside Theatre -  Quote ‘Younger’ when booking on the phone or online.

Tickets are subject to availability 

Book for all venues at:

A Younger Theatre

A Younger Theatre

A Younger Theatre (AYT) is a platform for young people to express their views on theatre and performance. The site is maintained, edited and published by under 26 year olds who all have a passion for theatre.

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Review: Great Expectations

Posted on 15 September 2012 by Katie Angus

A dramatisation of an entire Dickens novel is no mean feat, and Jo Clifford’s adaptation of Great Expectations delivers on all accounts the fear, cruelty and horror that the novel and the countless adaptations provide. Clifford’s play, directed by Graham McLaren, provides the traditional Dickensian elements that an audience would instantly recognise – the whimsical gentlemen, orphaned urchins, criminals and madwomen who move about a London writhing in death and disease. However, there are moments when Great Expectations veers from the novel’s course so wildly that the play twists itself into an unrecognisable form. From this unfamiliarity arises a dangerous mix of eccentricity, madness and vulnerability: the results are unexpected and the effect is explosive.

Clifford’s Great Expectations is much darker than perhaps even Dickens could have perceived. The explorations of the desires and greed that push young orphan Pip into a life forever marred with the violent and disturbing memories of childhood are readily embodied by the harsh, ugly bodies of Mrs Joe (played by Isabelle Joss) and her companion Wopsle (played by James Vaughan), whose top hat is almost as tall as the tales he spins. Characters move about the set in a spidery, atmospheric trance whilst Tim Burton-esque, cobweb-strewn costume and set design evoke an atmosphere of decay, both symbolic and actual. Annie Gosney and Graham McLaren’s costumes are innovative, most notably Wopsle’s, who is clad in resemblance of the Mad Hatter; his garish attire reflects the whimsical absurdities of the character and instantly reflect a little of the insanity that surrounds them all.

In the play’s more threatening scenes McLaren is quick to convey the ruinous effects of Pip’s dangerous aspirations. After being mocked by the arrogant Estelle, Pip desires nothing but to better himself and become a gentleman. Pip’s desires govern his actions and assisted by fate, he receives funding from an unknown benefactor. He thus begins a supposedly successful life in London as an eligible gentleman. Yet the extent to which Pip’s self-determination gains him wealth and comfort is constantly questioned. Through Clifford’s Great Expectations it becomes increasingly obvious that Pip has been ‘created’ – used and acted upon by others whose own desires suffocate his own. Director McLaren leaves such fragile questions suspended on stage, and one scene involving Pip’s newly employed servant cleverly combines comic relief and sharp sobriety in conveying the ignorance and vulnerability of the new Pip and his ever-changing situation.

It is failure and the theme of ‘broken dreams’ that is threaded most repetitively in web of mistrust spun by this production. In Dickens’ London, deceit is the order of the day and any possibility of harmony, of reconciliation, or indeed love are rendered cruelly fictitious. Pip (played by Taylor Jay-Davies) is at once fragile and headstrong whilst lawyer Jaggers, perpetually self-centered, proves, just once, to recognise and value the honesty and decency that Pip desires – one well-acted scene between them becomes at once both poignant and deeply tragic. There is evident conflict between the ‘old’ and ‘young’ in the play too, with an older Pip narrating events as they occur. The audience, it appears, are in fact entering Pip’s memory itself where dialogues overlap, where flashbacks are commonplace, characters disappear into holes in the walls, mirrors conjure moving images of past recollections and ghostly lace veil of Miss Havisham (played by Paula Wilcox) enshrouds all in Pip’s fractious memory.

Clifford’s adaptation, which remains consistent to the original Great Expectations, comes to life with its own successful character portrayals and imagination. It is a successful adaptation that condenses Dickens’ complex plotline yet expands its potential as a gothic horror story with exciting additions and wonderful character rendering. The result is a cleverly styled and wonderfully executed performance, which renews this ever-popular work of Dickens with a darkly original and exciting creativity.

Great Expectationsis now on a National Tour. For more information, tour dates and tickets, see - Want to get your hands on £10 tickets? AYT has an offer for readers, see our Ticket Offer page with details.


Katie Angus

Katie Angus

Katie Angus is an undergraduate currently in her final year studying English at the University of Nottingham. She loves reviewing theatre productions in her spare time, works at her local theatre and will talk endlessly about the theatre to anyone who cares to listen!

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