"An Audience with Great Expectations!"
by Cheryl Rowlands for remotegoat on 31/08/17

This is the second review that I have undertaken for this up and coming Production Company who are building a great reputation for themselves locally.

This was an ambitious production which saw some new actors whom I had not seen in the previous production I had reviewed and all playing multiple parts with the obvious exception of Pip. It was nice to see some more mature cast members, albeit they were all male. It would be nice to see more mature female actors featured for future productions and hopefully not merely in supporting roles.

The stage area was simply set, with tables, chairs and lace hangings. The packed audience hushed as the lights went down and there was a blackout, lit only by torches shone into the audience by the cast who in turn lit each other’s faces as they made their introductory speeches.

Once again, the cast braved the sweltering working conditions of the quaint Alma Tavern Theatre and Narrator and Protagonist Pip, played by Calum Anderson, did very well indeed, dressed heavily in three-piece suit and tie throughout, visibly dripping with sweat by the end.

I loved Miss Haversham and Mrs Joe, both played to great effect by Lottie Elcoate Miss Haversham’s haggared look and creepy tattered wedding dress. It would have been nice to hear her voice falter a little, the older she became. Her death, due to injuries sustained when her wedding dress caught alight was very atmospheric with the lighting chosen and could possibly have been enhanced by the sound effects of crackling flames. Lottie is a strong actress and comes across very well in her portrayals of creepy or bullying characters. She also coped efficiently with some extremely rapid changes between characters and scenes.

The parts of Pumblechook and Magiwitch were played by Steve Huggins who was a great character actor. He portrayed Magiwitch particularly well.

Martin Whatley played Orlick, Mr Jaggers and Wopsle brilliantly. He was very convincing and portrayed each character so differently – changing from Mr Jaggers the Lawyer in one scene, straight into the menacing Orlick in an instant, and his scene whereby Orlick was threatening Pip was excellent. The eyes, the voice, the mannerisms between Jaggers and Orlick were so different, and convincing. For me, Martin Whatley stole the show with Lottie Elcoate a close second.

I loved Tom Morris’s portrayal of loveable old Joe. He was meek and good natured and was a wonderful characterisation. Tom’s other parts of Wemick and Drummle were well potrayed but it was Joe who won it for me. Exactly the kindly sort of Uncle-figure one would wish to have!

There was a wonderfully comic moment with the audience when Pip discovered that Biddy had married Joe and they had named their baby after him!

Phoebe Mulcahy played the parts of Startop and the haughty Estrella to great effect and Estella especially was a significant presence throughout.

The parts of Molly, Biddy and Mrs Hubble were taken by Rebecca Haselhurst played to great effect and untilising some lovely natural accents, particularly where the role of Biddy was concerned.

The odd mishaps with drinking glasses and Miss Haversham’s walking cane were dealt with professionally and there was a (presumably unintended) comic moment for the audience with the Wopsle’s wig which seemed to have a life of its own and made the audience chuckle!

All in all, Oooh Arrr Productions are going from strength to strength and I look forward to the opportunity of reviewing future productions

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