Great Expectations Review

And yes, there are great expectations for local theatre when Bromley Community Arts Theatre has the vision and foresight to resurrect an almost forgotten part of the Churchill Gardens in the centre of Bromley and follow up their 2021 outdoor production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ with Dickens’ classic tale ‘Great Expectations’ over four nights from 19 – 23 July. And all this despite the logistical headaches of stage and technical setting up in an outdoor location, not to mention raising sufficient funds to meet Council costs for hire of a venue which the Borough may appear to have forgotten existed in the first place.

BCAT was formed last year ‘to revive live theatre in Bromley following a long period of stagnation. The aim was to bring together talents, skills and expertise from all across the Borough to produce exciting theatre for all the family!’ The ‘Dream’ has always lent itself to outdoor productions and so the lucky choice of the Gardens in 2021 proved a magical setting in a ‘lost’ amphitheatre overlooking a lake where families and friends picnicked spellbound under a rising moon as they watched Shakespeare’s timeless classic.

While members of the cast frequently ‘doubled up’ more than convincingly to present Dickens’ bewildering range of memorable characters and together formed the ‘chorus’ to explain the plot and various sub-plots, particularly enjoyable were the individual performances of those playing the novel’s celebrated characters: Pip and Estella, Miss Havisham, Magwitch, Mr Jaggers, Herbert Pocket, Mrs & Joe Gargery, Pumblechook, Wemmick and Biddy.

Despite the challenge of staging scenes ranging from ‘Pip, alone on the windswept marshes, to the haunted darkness of Miss Havisham’s cobweb- strewn lair’ by way of the blacksmith’s forge and a variety of London scenes climaxing with a tragic accident on the Thames itself, the directors, cast and technical crew are to be congratulated on bringing such an engaging novel to life on a balmy summer evening in this delightful outdoor setting.

Brian McEwan