Strawdog’s “Great Expectations” Review – Multi-Jointed Actors and Script Delight

 

 

If you can summon your memory of your first double-jointed friend amazing you with what they could do with their hyper-flexible joints, you’ll get a feel for the childlike magic that the ever so versatile six-member cast of “Great Expectations” awakens. 

 

 

 

Whether it is Cody Proctor as a hardened criminal fugitive in one moment and then convincingly becoming a toddler the next, or Paige Smith changing from a humble loving blacksmith to the rich curd you immediately know to hate, or Mary Winn Heider oozing creepiness as the strange wealthy Miss Havisham, you will just be continually astounded at how easily these, and actually all six of the actors – create the cast of dozens that make this Charles Dickens epic come alive. 

 

 

 

The one actor who stays a single character throughout, Mike Tepeli as Pip, is utterly convincing as he moves from young boy to the ultimate man whose great expectations had been altered so often as his life’s journey unfolded.

 

 

 

Here is one of the earlier scenes when Pip encounters fugitive Magwitch on the run—

 

 

Strawdog Theatre Company - Great Expectations 2014 - B-Roll Scene 1 from KBH Media on Vimeo.

 

 

Pip comes to this fugitive’s aid, but worries that his crime will be discovered during a dinner at his overbearing sister and guardian’s table—

 

Strawdog Theatre Company - Great Expectations 2014 - B-Roll Scene 2 from KBH Media on Vimeo.

 

When Pip meets the frozen-in-time scorned bride Miss Haversham, we see the dawn of his “Great Expectations” of a wealthy patron taking root.

 

 

Strawdog Theatre Company - Great Expectations 2014 - B-Roll Scene 3 from KBH Media on Vimeo.

 

 

 

How remarkable that the set is nothing more—or less—than moving book shelves that are a constant background reminder that “Great Expectations” may be one of the most classic tales from Charles Dickens’ pen.  This is all the more amazing when  you pull back from the action just to marvel that the one-time chocolate factory of Strawdog theater where this is staged has a number of columns that audience and cast must navigate around and we do—with ease. (Scenic Designer: Joanna Iwanicka).

 

 

 

One puzzle—is it the adaptation script by Gale Childs Daly or the direction by Jason Gerace or the overflowing talent of the six actors (Amanda Drinkall, Caleb Fullen, Mary Winn Heider, Cody Proctor, Paige Smith, Mike Tepelli) and violinist, Taryn Rosenquist that keeps us mesmerized?

It matters not, does it?  Strawdog Theatre Company yet again brings us a masterpiece.

 

Now through  December 13.

For tickets call 773 528 9696 or visit the Strawdog website.

 

 

 

Strawdog Theatre

 

3829 North Broadway

 

Chicago

 

 

 

-30-

 

 

 

 

 

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