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At Hijinx Theatre

Hijinx Theatre- Estella's Fire , On Tour , October 11, 2006
At Hijinx Theatre by Hijinx Theatre- Estella's Fire Time has stood still in the decaying mansion of Satis House deep in the Thames estuary marshes, ever since the owner was jilted at the altar many years before.

How can she exact revenge for this betrayal?
By training a girl to break the heart of at least one male.

Familiar situation? Of course, it is Dickens’ Great Expectations. But what is refreshingly unfamiliar is Louise Osborn’s imaginative delve into the character and circumstance of Miss Havisham’s instrument of revenge, the orphan Estella. Claustrophobically shut off from the world, the young innocent seeks freedom in fantasies complicated by burgeoning sexual awareness. Unsettling reality has to be faced in the form of blacksmith apprentice Pip when he is summoned to play with Estella.

Sensitively directed by Rosamunde Hutt, this fascinating drama explores well beyond the novel, at times amusing, occasionally fierce, always touching, building to a matically poetic climax, as surreal as it is moving. The ensemble playing of the four-strong cast is admirable - Caroline Bunce as the embittered Miss Havisham, Stephen Hickman as the naive, over-awed Pip, Lizzie Rogan as the strange tweeny maid Lily May, with an absolutely riveting performance by Zoe Davies as the wilful but so vulnerable Estella.

The atmospheric music composed by John Hardy includes old instruments such as psaltery, dulcimer and harmonium. The setting on casters - too often on the move unnecessarily - is designed by Jane Linz Roberts. Hijinx’s 25th anniversary tour of Estella’s Fire takes in 35 venues across Wales and England.

Reviewed by: Jon Holliday (The Stage)

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