Mercury Theatre Colchester
Giles Havergal brought his adaptation of David Copperfield to Colchester Mercury this month.
It was an amazing experience – a large cast, with many familiar faces – and if not a lavish production, then certainly a labour of love.
Tristram Wymark was the ever-present narrator, the grown-up David, with the fresh-faced James Rowland his younger self, who did most of the acting.
The broad sweep of the narrative used the width of the stage: a few ramps, a cluster of stylised masts, and an evocative nautical backdrop. And the books, all the brown jackets of Davy's boyhood, Roderick Random and the rest; the play began with a child lost in reading.
I liked the way actors moved through the scenes, telescoping time and distance, a memory, a regret, a lost love. The groupings were eloquent: Little Emily's first hint of tragedy, the humiliation of Heep.
There was a long casualty list, of course. Traddles, Barkis, Mr Dick, Mrs Gummidge ...
But clarity was key, and many favourites were superbly drawn: Christine Absalom's Peggoty, Pete Ashmore's tortured Steerforth, Ignatius Anthony as the villains, Kate Copeland as Dora, Kerry Gooderson as the poor deluded Emily.
And a gaggle of Dickensian children, shifting the furniture, dressing the scene, and scampering happily alongside Micawber's optimistic perambulator.
A memorable, moving afternoon.