Looking Back at Great Expectations - DT Memory Box


As part of our Memory Box feature, we'll be delving into our archive and looking back at popular Derby Theatre productions.

This week is our production of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, performed in Autumn 2017.

We want to hear from you! Share your thoughts, memories and pictures of the shows you enjoyed at Derby Theatre and any archive materials you may have on FacebookTwitter or Instagram with #DTMemoryBox.

NEW: Miss Havisham Revisited

Welcome back to Polly Lister, as she revisits the role as Miss Havisham and her final monologue in this memory box clip.

The Making of Great Expectations

Show Trailer

"A dark and chillingly atmospheric adaptation and a fine ensemble"
The Stage ★★★★

Key Facts

1) Directed by Sarah Brigham, the production used Neil Bartlett's adaptation of the novel and featured the use of the original Dickensian language, a heavy emphasis on ensemble - where the actors worked together to aid the visual storytelling - and all actors, except Geoffery Breton as Pip, doubling up with two contrasting characters.

2) Cast members Polly Lister (Miss Havisham) and Jack Quarton (Joe Gargery/Mr Jaggers) are both Derby Theatre regulars.

Polly previously starred in the very first Derby Theatre production, Cooking with Elvis, and then Solace of the Road.

Jack has also performed in three DT Christmas shows and was the Musical Director for last year's revival of A Christmas Carol

Dickensian characters in Great Expectations crowd round the dinner table eating

Photography © Robert Day

3) Cast members Kate Spencer (Estella) and Helena Rimmer (Sarah Pocket) also work part time in Derby Theatre's Front of House and Box Office teams in addition to their acting work!

Kate has gone on to play Grace in Coronation Street from early 2020.

As well as Great Expectations, Helena also performed in our Christmas production of Alice in Wonderland as a recipient of The Brian Weaver Fellowship

4) The set design by Barney George included small pools within the stage that represented the marshes. Our production team constructed a 3ft deep water tank on stage to represent the Thames river, which actors Geoffrey Breton, Bryn Holding and Robert Beck plunged into during a fight scene.

The front row was designated as a splash zone and audience members were given ponchos to stay dry. Staff members even volunteered during technical rehearsals to test how much the water would spash them!

The fire at Miss Havisham's house was created through the use of real fire erupting from a giant chandelier. Watch how the use of real fire and water was incorporated below...

Photo Gallery

Experience the Charles Dickens classic, Great Expectations, live on stage at Derby Theatre - now on until Saturday 21...

Posted by Derby Theatre on Monday, 2 October 2017

About the Play

Derby Theatre brought the classic story to life in Neil Bartlett's brilliant adaptation, which used the magnificent language of Charles Dickens' original novel. 

Christmas Eve 1812, and a young orphan boy, Pip, stumbles upon a convict hiding out amongst the graves of the village churchyard. Terrified for his life, the boy agrees to help him.

Two years on and Pip is invited to visit Satis House, the home of the wealthy, reclusive spinster Miss Havisham and her beautiful yet manipulative adopted daughter Estella. Falling deeply in love with Estella's beauty, Pip vows to better himself and become a gentleman.

But it is the chance meeting with Magwitch in the churchyard which has already set in motion a journey of transformation and discovery, forever changing the fortunes and destiny of young Pip.

Dickensian characters in the Great Expectations ensemble pursue and crowd round Pip

Making Great Expectations - Behind-the-Scenes Playlist

Watch our behind-the-scenes video playlist to see how the production was made, from the first day of rehearsals right through to technical rehearsals

Hear from creative and production team members as they discuss their areas of work, including the following and more - a great learning resource!



-Stage Management


-Stage Combat

Adapting Great Expectations - Neil Bartlett Writer's Interview

Download this interview from the show programme with writer Neil Bartlett as he discusses adapting Charles Dickens' novel for the stage.

Or view the view the web version here

Screenshot of Great Expectations programme article available to download

Set Model and Design

Check out the set model by Barney George and hear him talk through the choices behind the design in the video below.

Great Expectations set model design

Get Ready with Miss Havisham

Go backstage and meet Polly Lister and Ella Vale in their dressing room as they prepare for a performance.

Then watch as Polly, who plays Miss Havisham, quick changes between characters - applying make up and donning the wedding dress to transform herself into the iconic jilted bride. All before rushing back to the stage for her big entrance!

Dickensian Dialect and Gargery's Glossary

With the original Dickensian language used in the play, there were some words audiences may have been unfamiliar with.

Download and read of this glossary and see how many words you know!

Or view the web version here

Looking Back at Great Expectations

Thanks for the Memories!

Watch these outtakes and highlights during the making of the production.

"A hugely enjoyable production which will add to Sarah Brigham’s increasing list of major successes"
British Theatre Guide