Great Expectations, Maskers Theatre Company

First time Director Sarah Russell brings new energy to Dickens' novel, in this first UK production of Gale Childs Daly's stage adaptation, which, with just six players, preserves the plot, most of the characters and a great deal of the author's original language.

Quick changes, atmospheric use of the actors as chorus, subtle set and lighting design (by Emma James and Clive Weeks), and Wayne Landen's unobtrusive but effective music keep us focussed on the story, as it proceeds to its exciting and touching conclusion.

This ensemble piece includes three debuts for Maskers – James Fairley, making the timid boy Pip into a rueful, wiser man, Calum Daly, delightful as Herbert Pocket and ham actor Wopsle, and Jo Barnard, creating three distinct characters as Molly, Mrs Joe and sad, cruel Miss Havisham – while Matt Avery, Eric Petterson and Sarah-Jayne Wareham make valuable contributions, the latter especially memorable as Estella.

Ham Quentin

Ham saw the show at Maskers Studio Theatre in Shirley. It continues at The Berry Theatre Hedge End from April 4 to 8.