Swallow Theatre Review - David Copperfield

The Hotbuckle Theatre group performed David Copperfield  at The Swallow on Saturday evening.
The Hotbuckle Theatre group performed David Copperfield at The Swallow on Saturday evening.

By Anne Dunford

Dickens’ David Copperfield is one of his most well-known works. With iconic characters such as Mr Micawber and Uriah Heep it is arguably the one most quoted, as we state that something will turn up - ever so ‘umbly of course.

Hotbuckle Theatre were billed as having a ‘distinctive style’ and they are certainly not shy of taking on epic stories and adapting them for a small touring theatre company. In 2012 we saw their version of Les Miserables; last Saturday we were privileged to see Adrian Preater’s memorable adaptation of David Copperfield.

Adrian not only wrote the play, he is the company’s founder and artistic director and also convincingly played many major roles including Mr Murdstone (David Copperfield’s tyrannical stepfather), Mr Peggotty and Mr Micawber.

Other members of the cast showed astonishing ability to switch costumes, characters, accents and conflicting emotions within minutes – all while shifting the adaptable scenery which was basically half barrels and wooden crates.

The set, built and designed by the company, was cleverly adapted throughout to form a backdrop to the contrasting places of city life, countryside and Mr Peggotty’s home on a boat, the latter having a sail hoisted appropriately.

Peter Randall enjoyed the contrasting roles of Ham and Uriah Heep along with other memorable cameos such as Steerforth and the ‘willing’ Barkiss.

Fiona Leaning and Emily Lockwood skilfully played all the women in the story, so that there was no doubt which character they were portraying.

Fiona, as the eccentric Betsey Trotwood, delighted younger members of the audience with her battle against donkeys on the lawn and was alternately formidable and warm-hearted in other roles.

Emily Lockwood sensitively portrayed all of the loves in David Copperfield’s life, in addition to minor male roles. The talent and flexibility shown by all the cast was commented on by many as they left the theatre.

Andrew Chevalier played David Copperfield both as man and boy, making the audience forget his (bearded) adult appearance, as he became the vulnerable, frightened child. We shared his roller-coaster of emotions as he went through his testing times.

Altogether, yet another memorable performance at The Swallow.

Next at The Swallow, Kenneth Steven and Wendy Stewart will combine music and words as Wendy’s clarsach weaves music throughout Kenneth’s ‘Song among the Stones’ – a story of the voyage of Celtic hermits from Iona to Iceland.