Many classics in literature ( which have in many cases become plays, even musicals) were written by Charles Dickens. While most of his work is dark in nature, adaptations , over the years, have been done to add a touch of humor to his tales. One of his classics, “Great Expectations” is the story of an orphan , Pip ( handled to perfection by Mike Tepeli), who is plucked from a life of poverty and thrown into a class that he could have never imagined being a part of, never realizing who his benefactor is and the motives that have brought to him to this very special place. In this adaptation by Gale Childs Daly, we are treated to some comical moments along with the serious side as Pip attempts to find true love and why he was chosen with a cast of five other players taking on some 40 roles with some clever costume changes and voice modifications.
Sharply directed by Jason Gerace, we move through two hours and thirty minutes ( with an intermission) of sheer artistry in story telling.The other three male actors are John Ferrick, Kyle A. Gibson and the comical and very agile John Taflan. The two female actresses, Amanda Drinkall and Megan Kohl are as lovely as they are talented, making this a cast that was meant to bring this adaptation to the stage. Speaking of the stage, StrawdogTheatre Company works in what one might call a “storefront” theater that is upstairs of stores on Broadway that may have been either offices or an apartment back in the day, but what they have created is a comfy theater with an even comfier lounge /waiting area where they serve beverages ( except coffee. It would be great if they would get one of those single cup brewers for those who prefer a hot beverage over a beer or water).
The set for this production(Joanna Iwanicka) is simple and open so that both sides of the audience see all the action. There are a number of book cases, filled with tomes and knick knacks ( great props handled deftly by Emily Guthrie) and the costumes (Brittany Dee Bodley) are very period perfect. Sam Hubbard handles the fight choreography and this being a smaller venue, the action is within feet of the audience, so this must be choreographed to a “T”. There is some lovely music ( directed by Mike Przygoda) and played by Hilary Holbrook, who is a part of the action.
This production is unlike any other I have ever seen of this Dickens play in that it is much faster paced with far less actors and is what I might refer to as a “Theatrical experience”- one that is both educational and entertaining and allows the audience to see just how powerful “live” theater can be, in particular in our smaller theaters where we get “up close and personal”. “Great Expectations” will continue at Strawdog Theatre located at 3829 N. Broadway ( just South of Sheridan and Irving Park) through December 14th with performances as follows:
Thursdays 8 p.m.
Saturdays 8 p.m.
Sundays 4 p.m.
Monday, 11/18 is Industry Night ( for other actors and those who are in the theater)
Tickets are a mere $28 with discounts for Seniors, students and can be ordered by calling 773-528-9696 or online at www.strawdog.org
Parking is a bit of a problem, but meters have been extended to three hours and end at 10 p.m. so you are okay there.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review round-up and click at “Great Expectations”