Friday, November 15, 2013

Review of Great Expectations at Strawdog Theatre Company

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. It was directed by Jason Gerace and it was adapted Gale Childs Daly. It's about a boy named Pip (Mike Tepeli) who falls in love with a girl named Estella (Amanda Drinkall) who was being taken care of by a woman named Miss Havisham (Megan Kohl). It's about Pip's life and how he gets through obstacles and how sadness overcomes him and how he overcomes sadness. It is called Great Expectations because Pip is supposed to inherit a lot of money and that is what is greatly expected but also because people have great expectations for him, that means that they expect good things from him. I really loved this play. I thought it was really well adapted. It was a really good experience because, even though I knew the book, it was fun to see it in this brand-new way. This show was really awesome. I think this show is one of my favorite shows.

They only have 6 actors and they play many many parts. And I think that was a good decision because then you got to know the characters' relationships with the other characters better. Even if they hate each other or work for each other they are played by the same person so that shows you that these characters think differently but they are alike. Everybody is a little bit the same, so that shows you the similarities between the characters. Also the stage didn't get completely filled so you didn't feel that it was being crammed so you couldn't really understand the story. Even if the character wasn't in a scene the actor would still be on stage. They even changed on stage, which I thought was a great idea and I really liked that. I thought that it was awesome that they had live music because it makes you feel more of the emotions that the play is trying to give you. The person who played the live music on violin was Hilary Holbrook and I thought that her violin playing was very beautiful.

I think Megan Kohl did an amazing job. You don't like Miss Havisham because of what she does to Estella, but you still know she loves Pip and Estella. She can't show her love in the correct way because of the day that she was supposed to get married. She could just forget about it, but it was such a big thing for her that she can't. I really liked the scene where Miss Havisham becomes deceased and how everybody takes part in her death. When Miss Havisham gets close to the fire, she starts burning and Pip tries to get her out and he does but then the entire room starts catching on fire. The lights turn red and something awesome happens! You don't want just the lights turning red. That makes it seem less awesome, but when awesome stuff happens then everything is awesome. I'm being vague, very very vague, because I don't want to give away the surprise and horror (if you are a book-lover) that happened to us.

It was funny when Joe (John Ferrick) ended all of his letters and started them with, "What larks!" Translation: "What fun, Pip! What fun!" Joe is Pip's best friend in the entire world but Pip doesn't always act like he knows that. Joe gets married to a way younger girl whose name is Biddy (Drinkall) after Pip's sister (Kohl) who is Joe's wife dies. Mrs. Joe is not exactly a "larking" person and she raised Pip "by hand" which means that she raised him by her fist in his face. Sometimes you hate her, but when she dies you feel sorry for her. Joe shows us the dark side of Pip and he shows us the bright side of not being rich and fancy.

Kyle Gibson plays many many parts. I think that Kyle did a great job changing from a scary guy (Magwitch) to a weird guy (Pumblechook) to a calm and creepy guy (Jaggers) to a very noisy somersaulting baby (Baby Pocket) and back to scary Magwitch. My favorite moment is when Baby Pocket somersaulted over and took something from someone and somersaulted back. I also really liked when Pumblechook kept asking Pip "What's six times six, boy?" and other math questions. My favorite Jaggers moment was when he confessed that the money was not coming from Miss Havisham because it was cool because you hardly ever see a character that is creepy--but you like sort of--having to confess something to your main character.

I think that Amanda Drinkall did a great job at playing Biddy and Estella, which have not even one little similarity between them, and switching between them quickly had to be a big challenge. Estella basically gets married to the meanest man in the world, Mr. Drummle (Ferrick), instead of choosing Pip. She is very cold-hearted. She shows that she doesn't care about anybody but herself by not being nice to anybody. Biddy is a very kind-hearted girl and she is very fun and she loves Pip and loves to teach him things and very much loves to learn. She is never cold-hearted and is very sweet and kind and also an orphan. My favorite Estella moment was when she meets Pip again at the end because she is more nice and not conceited and horrible and cold-hearted. I really liked when Biddy tells Pip that Joe has married her because it is very sweet and you know that this is a happy moment.

It was hilariously funny when Herbert Pocket (John Taflan) first met Pip, when he was just standing out there and he says, "Hello! Do you want to fight?" And then he puts up his arms and fists weakly. I thought that that was really hilarious. I loved that! I thought it was maybe my favorite part of the entire play. It was so funny because he was like so excited about it and he was putting it like it was a compliment. One of my other favorite scenes was where Herbert was telling Pip not to place his napkin in his tumbler, also known as a cup. And he says it like he's being sooo polite that it's funny. And I also really liked it when Pip comes in and he says, "I love and adore Estella" and Herbert says, "I love and adore Clara!" It is so great because Herbert basically just interrupts him to say his own thing and it is so random. He's not like big complimentary, he's just like "This is my thing!"

The actor who plays Pip only plays Pip and nobody else, and this is because he is always on stage. There is no way to forget about Pip even for a little bit. It made it even more unforgettable with this actor because I think he was so good. He seemed like a kid who was not trying to be a kid. The character was expected to behave like an adult when he was a kid, so he acted like a kid trying to act like an adult. He wasn't being like "I'm a kid!" but you knew he was a kid because he was acting like a kid who couldn't be like an adult but was trying with all his might. When Pip was an adult he changed; you knew he was the same person but he changed his character from kid to adult. When he opened the book at the beginning, I thought that was really nice. It told me the play was based on books, they had books all around, and they used books as a symbol for connection. When somebody has the book in their hand it means they are connected with the story. It shows you that this is basically a book made so you can see it.

If I did a version of Great Expectations I would put in The Aged P and Miss Skiffins. These people are just in the book and not in the play. The Aged P is Wemmick's (Ferrick's) father and Miss Skiffins is his girlfriend. I like them so much because they are probably the funniest characters. I would have had Kyle play The Aged P and Megan play Miss Skiffins.

People who would like this show are people who like Dickens, larks, and somersaulting babies. I really liked how this play was really funny at a lot of moments and really sad at a lot of moments. People should go see this show because it is hilarious, touching, and one of the best plays I have ever seen. People should definitely go see this show. It is amazing!

Photos: Chris Ocken

No comments: