The Byre Theatre, St Andrews, Thu 31 Jan–Sat 9 Feb, then touring
‘What is it that makes a person? How possible is it to escape your past? Are you trapped by it or does it give you a platform from which to move forward?’ These are the questions concerning director Ben Twist as he prepares to take on a Dickens classic.
Those who are sick of Dickens adaptations – which seemed to form the bulk of this year’s Christmas TV schedules – need fear not, as Twist assures me he is bringing something new and exciting to Pip’s well-trodden narrative journey. ‘It is a well known piece – that’s one of the reasons for doing it really. The thing about Great Expectations is that it’s an extraordinary, weird and rather wonderful story, audiences love it, actors love it and I fell in love with it when I worked on the same adaptation 20 years ago. Jo Clifford’s adaptation leaves a lot of room for musical intervention and I’m working with a very exciting composer, David Fenessey. This is the fifth project we’ve worked on together and he always comes at the work from a completely different angle to me but it seems to fit.’
As Twist points out, Clifford’s adaptation, written at a very strong time for Scottish theatre, manages to be sparse and lyrical as well as funny, moving and not at all archaic. ‘I want the audience to leave the venue knowing that they have seen a thing of beauty. They should be moved and feel like they have transcended. The play needs to take them out of themselves so that they’re not just watching or hearing it, but experiencing something larger’.