The production (based on Stroud's adaptation for Seattle-based Book-It Repertory Theatre) offered many memorable scenes, starting straight away with prone, enshrouded bodies that created the graveyard where Pip, the central character of the story, is confronted by the escaped convict Magwitch. The setting for Joe Gargery’s blacksmith’s shop was simply conveyed with an anvil, a hammer, and a rope that controlled how much air went to the forge. An imposing gate and a huge mirror helped to define Miss Havisham’s gloomy residence. Jaggers office had a massive desk while the gentlemanly quarters of Pip and Herbert Pocket required only a table and a few chairs. The epic fight between Magwitch and Compeyson was terrifically silhouetted onto a big bedsheet.
Stephen Stocking captured the essence of Pip, from his wide-eyed boyhood to young adulthood where he was in danger of becoming a conceited, and debt-ridden gentleman. Because he was almost continuously on the stage, Stocking could have easily let Pip’s character slip, but he marvelously kept it in focus and showed how it evolved in the course of the story.
Dana Green scared half of the audience with her wrathful declamations in the role of Mrs. Joe, and her imperious bearing as Miss Havisham was hauntingly impressive. John Hutton gave the escaped criminal Magwitch a forceful flinty shell, and Hutton was equally convincing as Jaggers, the lawyer who commanded his client’s desires with absolute rectitude.
Damon Kupper’s avuncular and mutton chopped Pumblechook sported the oddest grin you could ever imagine. Kupper was equally gifted at conveying the peculiar, officious demeanor Wemmick. Chris Murray won everyone over as the amiable and energetic Herbert Pocket.
Isaac Lamb excelled in several diverse roles, including the lumbering and menacing Orlick, the sly and cruel Compeyson, and as the snorting carriage horse. The stiff-upper-lipped vanity of Drummlie was superbly conveyed by Sean McGrath.
Even if you have never read “Great Expectations,” you should see this production, which runs through February 14th. It’s a classic, just like Dickens's novel.