Dombey and Son Tobacco Factory 8/10
TRYING to adapt any Charles Dickens novel for the theatre is fraught with danger. They are so full of detail that the question always arises as to who and what you should leave out without destroying the flow of the story, like the assages of pure Victorian sentimentality that could so easily become cloying.
Adapter Jude Emmet avoided both these potential fatal traps, and director Sue Colverd, and set, and costume designer Corinne Hockley had the production buzzing along at a merry pace from the word go. set in a Victorian period costumes were a bit of a mish mash, which only caused problems for Ian Gain whose Mr Dombey heavily booted and wearing a black studded coat looked more like a bullying Bill Sykes than a hard-hearted City financier. Living up to this image he was at times inclined to play with the throttle too wide open, which detracted from his expert playing of the scene in which he attempts to destroy his unwilling second wife.
He was matched all the way there by Kate Abraham's portrayal of this tortured lady. Her relationship with Dombey's neglected daughter Florence, played with great delicacy, and charm, by Carla Freeman, was beautifully judged.
All the cast created more than one character with Chris Bianchi leading the way with five different portrayals, the best of which was his scheming evil minded Mr Carker, a perfect contrast to his loveable Uncle Sol. Jude Emmet and Joe Carey slipped in and out of their respective four and three characters as easily as a snake leaves behind his discarded skin, and in doing so added a whole range of colourful characters.
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Without ever becoming intrusive Colin Sell's music enhanced many scenes, as did Corin Hayes' lighting design, and the stage management efforts of Xanthe Parker and the team. Between them this company combined to translate, in fine style, a difficult Dickens novel from the page to the stage.