Fringe Box



Review: David Copperfield – Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Published on: 5 Dec, 2016
Updated on: 5 Dec, 2016
David Copperfield at The Mill Theatre

David Copperfield at The Mill Theatre

By Ferenc Hepp

Before panto season kicks off, I had a chance at the end of last week (December 3) to watch the Yvonne Arnaud Youth Theatre’s Interval Group perform the Charles Dickens classic, David Copperfield at the Mill Studio in front of a full house, full of friends and family, as well as general public.

For those not familiar with the plot, it tells the story of David Copperfield as a young child to adulthood, and is thought to be partly autobiographical. It is a touching story which begins with Copperfield living with his mother and his nurse, but things soon turns sour when we meet his mother’s new violent husband who send David away to school.

This is just the start of a rather adventurous life which sees David move homes and school several times, living with different guardians after his mother’s death, befriending numerous characters along the way (some more beneficial than others) and marrying twice before finding his true love and vocation.

This adaptation was by Alastair Cording, and directed by Rob Cann, and I must praise Cann at this point: he had a big cast, most of whom were on stage throughout the show, directing them could not have been an easy task.

But whether they played a leading role, or part of the supporting cast, whenever I looked at each participant, they were always in character and looked very much involved in the production.

One or two were possibly a little over enthusiastic at times with their stage whispers, but better that way round rather than seeing cast members looking bored and disinterested.

The stage setting was rather smart too, as a raised platform allowed a number of actors to emerge from below stage and there was also a clever use of flying in a bit of scenery, which I have never seen in the Mill Studio before.

The young cast were in charge of all scene changes which were carried out very efficiently, not allowing the pace of the production to drop at any point.

David Copperfield was played by Cameron Chapman, who gave a very mature and well-rounded performance, with one of the most memorable and emotional moments being the death of his first wife. It brought a tear to the eye.

Alister Cresswell provided a lot of the physical humour with his interpretation of Mr Micawber which received a lot of appreciative laughter, and James Mansbridge had a well-rehearsed persona and good intonation as Uriah Heep, he just needed to look out to the audience a bit more rather than looking down; I wanted to see more of his facial expressions to go with the good voice.

The action was perfectly complimented by a gentle and beautiful piano score written by one of the members of the youth theatre, Deliah Ferry-Swainson, and the lighting design by Conor Brown worked perfectly with the set and the costumes.

This cast of young people achieved something special under the skilful direction of Cann, and you never know, maybe one day some will end up in a professional production on the main stage or even in the West End.

But whatever happens, as the lady next to me said in an impromptu manner after the performance: “It was good wasn’t it?” Yes it was.

Star rating 5

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