When orphan Pip meets the escaped convict Magwitch in an overgrown churchyard on the Kent marshes, little does he know that the incident will change his life forever? Some years later, now apprenticed to his blacksmith brother-in-law, Pip falls in love with the beautiful Estella. Her half-crazed and bitter guardian Miss Havisham, however, exerts a malign influence over the girl and forces a wedge between the two. Pip abandons his roots and, with 'great expectations' of becoming a gentleman, heads for London society. There he begins to receive riches from a mysterious benefactor... Pip's quest to find his true identity, and his growth to maturity through misfortune and misery, form the basis of this atmospheric tale starring Douglas Hodge, Geraldine McEwan and Amanda Redman. Directed by Sally Avens.
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- Alev Haddadieh
Superb Production Spoilt By Lack Of Vocal Clarity
This narration / dramatisation of Dickens' masterpiece has been lovingly produced with an excellent script and a star-studded cast ( Douglas Hodge, Geraldine McEwan, Amanda Redman and others ). A bried glimpse at the CVs of these actors confirms their impressive achievements in film and theatre. So with a story of such richness and a cast of this quality what could go wrong ?
In my opinion the actors sometimes forget that we can't see them as we would do on the screen or stage which makes vocal clarity and diction absolutely crucial. There are passages where they become so involved in the emotional intensity, characterisation and accents that it's difficult to understand what is being said. The opening scene where Pip meets Magwitch for the first time is charged with menace and evokes the scene with great atmosphere, but large tracts of the dialogue are simply unintelligible. It's such a pity, just a little more restraint would make it so much more enjoyable. My children who love radio theatre just couldn't follow some sections and disengaged. At one point in this opening scene I even thought I'd downloaded a foreign language version.