Reviewed – 6th December 2018
“the performances are committed and energised”
‘Little Women’ is a much loved classic, and Rachael Claye’s adaptation is deeply true to the spirit of its inspiration. Warm and human and familiar, this is a play about family, about growing up, about leaving and about coming back together. Four young women live with their mother, each yearning for different things. Amy is an artist, Jo a writer, Beth a carpenter and Meg wants to make a difference in people’s lives. We meet them as they begin to encounter the world, caught between child and adult.
The cast is consistently strong. Miranda Horn as Beth is particularly lovely, natural and bright onstage. Sean Stevenson’s Laurie is playful and likeable, Amy Gough as Jo is earnest and fervent. In fact across the cast, the performances are committed and energised, and the familial relationships feel nothing but genuine. Jonathan Hawkins as the quirky Professor is a vibrant late addition to the play.
The script captures well what is so brilliant about the book, the relationships and characters are well sketched. However whilst very strong in many ways, it suffers from indecision. The narrative is supposedly set in modern day Crouch End but the dialogue fluctuates back and forth, sometimes genuinely contemporary, in other moments far more mannered and of its time. The ages of some of the characters also seems confused. Stephanie Dickson as Amy, for example, has been directed to play quite young complete with pigtails and a bow in her hair but is simultaneously applying to art school, an incongruence which is not believable.
The show is also a little too long. There are a couple of scenes that are unnecessary, if lovely, and the end, equally is not needed. The image of Beth and Jo together for the last time, of ‘Little Women’ forming in Jo’s mind, is one of both sadness and hope, and I don’t think we learn anything further from the action that follows that.
A Christmas classic, Claye’s 2018 adaptation of ‘Little Women’ is a charming joy to watch that just needs some tweaking to really situate itself.
Reviewed by Amelia Brown
Photography by Matthew Thomas
The Space until 15th December
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