Fast-moving epic of Dickensian delights
ANY play described by its director as an "epic" will probably be a weighty evening's entertainment.
But to Lindley Players director Peter Hunt's credit, this production feels nowhere near its three-hour length.
The action is fast-paced almost from the start and the impressive set design means scene changes are kept to a minimum so the flow is undisturbed.
I had not read Dickens' autobiographical novel so the tragedy and humour of Copperfield's coming of age story were new to me – and there were plenty of both, bringing me to laughter and tears more than once.
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This adaptation uses two actors to play David and both remain on stage for almost all the play. It must be challenging and demanding but both Amy Bills, as young David, and David Rogers, as the adult character, appeared completely unfazed by it.
The cast was impeccably rehearsed and appeared faultless despite the play's length and the complexities of the script. Some actors had to learn new accents and stuck to them throughout, while others added brilliant touches of characterisation, like Lindley favourite Larry Dobin as Mr Micawber. I loved the gestures he used whenever he spoke of his tormentor, Uriah Heep.
Rebecca Strike, as Mrs Micawber, also displayed some of the talent that has won her two awards in past Kent Drama Festivals. This play is this year's entry by the Lindleys.
The sinister characters were also well portrayed, with Dan Coles making Heep scary enough to give small children, and some adults, nightmares.
I also wouldn't want to come across Damian Kelly on a dark night – he had a coldness about him that was perfect for the role of Mr Murdstone.
Joining the Lindleys veterans on stage were several impressive newcomers, particularly Billy Dean as the caddish James Steerforth and Jane Cottrell as the rather dim Dora, the girlfriend of David, who was played by her real-life boyfriend.
As we expect from this group, every inch of the theatre was used to good effect, including the aisles. Sound designers Nick Farrow and Lynn Sahathevan deserve special mention for managing to bring everything from rain and the sea to horses inside.
It may be a marathon of a play but it is certainly worth taking the time to go to see it.
David Copperfield , Playhouse Theatre, Whitstable, until Saturday, 7.30pm. Tickets cost £7.50 to £9.50 from www.playhousewhitstable.co.uk or 01227 272042.