by Charles Dickens adapted by Alastair Cording.
Coliseum Theatre Fairbottom Street OL1 3SW To 23 February 2013.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm 23 Feb.
Runs 2hr 40min One interval.
TICKETS: 0161 624 2829.
Review: Stoon 9 February 2013.
Director Kevin Shaw’s program intro mentions the difficulty in condensing 700 pages of viscous Dickensian speak into meaningful theatricality. His solution is to base the production on a 70 page distillate; being a non-reader of the novel guarantees no gripes about missing scenes at least.
The pruned adaptation updates with occasional modern expressions and chooses less sobriety than the author presumably intended, to further lighten the play load. Throw in flexibility of cast (who play 19 characters) and one of those barren ‘transformer’ sets in which a random sprinkling of wooden crates are a coffin one minute and instantly a classroom of desks the next and Charles’ your Uncle!
The resultant smelted Copperfield alloy is fleeter of foot than original mass allowed yet never fully pleases through its partial commitment to the liberating cause. The opening, along with other scenes, go too literally down the storytelling route in an attempt to plug the gaps, cast passively seated whilst all ears to unenlightening narration.
Other times they’re over engaged but shun a narrator’s contribution to clarify their efforts. It feels a stranded hybrid of compromise, unable to wholly sell its soul broadsides but desperately seeking non-conformism in a managed way, not helped by some cast unevenness and an inability to appreciate that the merits of pacing extend beyond the axe.
A fuzzy opening does give way to a steadier section, with the classroom scenes proving the format can work, but overall there’s a sameness about large parts which tell the story with superficial embellishment.
Worthy in intent, it feels constricted, satisfying aficionados for whom dutiful viewing is an ideal. Hedonistic pleasure seekers will be less enthused.
Steerforth/Uriah Heep: Kieran Buckeridge.
Peggotty/Mrs Steerforth/Mrs Micawber: Isabel Ford.
Mother/Traddles/Agnes: Joanna Higson.
Betsey Trotwood/Jane Murdstone: Helen Kay.
Dora/Emily: Jo Mousley.
Creakle/Ham/Mr Dick: Robin Simpson.
Murdstone/Micawber/Daniel Peggotty: Tim Treslove.
David Copperfield: Jack Wilkinson.
Director: Kevin Shaw.
Designer: Alison Hefferman.
Lighting: Jane Barrek.
Sound: Lorna Munden.