Great Expectations: A Theatrical Review
The acclaimed repertory theatre company A Noise Within (ANW) located in an historic building in downtown Glendale, CA is now showing a powerful rendition of Charles Dickens Great Expectations; a wonderful production that will be highly enjoyed by all audiences who appreciate classic theatre at its best.
The story of an orphaned boy named Pip, wonderfully played by Jason Dechert, who endures a childhood of cruel poverty and living a life clinging to hope for something better, Great Expectations is a look at the facts that money does not buy happiness. Directed by Geoff Elliott and co-directed by Julia Rodriguez Elliott, this production is filled with intrigue, mystery, and imagery. Deborah Strang, performing as the infamous Miss Havisham provides a maniacal role that both brings terror as well as sympathy; and along with Jason Dechert, is surrounded by a truly wonderful cast that brings this daunting story to life on stage. Jason Dechert is a strong young actor with a striking look, a mastering of the stage, and a personality that invites all audiences to join him in this amazing journey.
A story about a young man who dreams for something better and finds it in an unnamed benefactor who helps him find all of his dreams as a gentlemen. Great Expectations is the story for love sought and purpose found, friendship offered and appreciation granted, demanding control over others and the just rewards earned from such demeanor. It is a story of dreams, life, pain, triumph, reward, heart-ache, and purpose. In short great Expectations is about the real world, something very few theatrical productions are actually about in today’s world.
Charles Dickens (1812-1870) is one of the most acclaimed writers of the Victorian Era. His childhood was one of difficulty receiving only a short time of education. His father was indiscriminate with his money, and when Dickens was 12, John Dickens was imprisoned for debt in the Marshalsea. Young Charles Dickens went to work blacking bottles. This early experience, after some success at school, wounded Dickens deeply. He reflects on it in his semi-autobiographical novel, David Copperfield as well as in the novel Little Dorrit , which deals particularly with the Marshalsea.
When his father paid his debt, Charles Dickens resumed his studies. He studied law and became a law reporter for Doctors Commons, the proctors who proofed wills and also defended laws regarding mariners and relating to the Church of England. By the 1830s, Dickens began writing opinion pieces and short stories, and became a contributor to several magazines. He would establish his own magazines “Household Words,” and “All the Year Round” in the 1850s.
In 1836, Charles Dickens married Catherine Hogarth, with whom he had 10 children. The novelist fell deeply in love with Catherine’s sister Mary, who died at the age of 17. Mary is thought to be the model for Dickens’ devoted and infinitely good female characters in most of his novels. Additional early novels of Charles Dickens include: Oliver Twist in 1837, Nicholas Nickleby in 1838, The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge both published in 1841. 1843 saw publication of the work Charles Dickens is probably most recognized for, The Christmas Carol, actually a very short story compared to his other novels. David Copperfield was published in 1849. Bleak House, The Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, and Our Mutual Friend are all of Dickens’ later period, and represent his maturity.
It takes a very powerful theatre company, an even stronger cast of actors, and powerfully determined director to pull off any of Dickens works, and this production of Great Expectations is one that I am most certain he would have been proud of. I also particularly think that the work of actor Jason Dechert is work that Dickens himself would have enjoyed immensely.
A Noise Within is the only year-round classical repertory company in Southern California and one of only a handful in the entire country. Currently in its 19th season of productions, ANW is in the process of building a brand new permanent home in the Pasadena area at the corner of Sierra Madre Villa and Foothill Blvd. An endeavor of over thirteen million dollars in the making, most of which has been earned already, ANW is still attempting to raise funds to continue not only their phenomenal theatrical programming, but also their educational options for students. A not for profit company, ANW has more than proven its worth, and I for one am and will continue to be a strong supporter.
A Noise Within is currently located at 234 South Brand Boulevard in Glendale, CA 91204. Single tickets are $46 for the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday matinees; $42 for Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday evenings as well as Saturday matinees; and groups of 10 or more are $25, or $30 on Saturday evenings and Sunday matinees. Even better prices are available for school groups of 10 or more. The show is running now through Sunday December 19, 2010, and tickets can be ordered by calling (818) 240-0910 x1 or visiting their web site at www.ANoiseWithin.org.
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