“Great Expectations” at Book-It

The reach of “Great Expectation,” one of Charles Dickens’ most popular and most autobiographical novels, is broad. This is a coming of age tale that features a scathing assessment of the British class structure. It demands much when re-imagined as a stage play. Book-It’s production makes a valiant effort but the task is just a little too daunting, even for a company as good as this one.

This production is too long, and demands a bit too much scurrying.  Despite that, Director Kevin McKeon pulls out some neat tricks to accommodate the numerous changes of scene and time. Using clever but simple props and sounds he recreates gardens, streets, a forge, a school, a dismal swamp, and homes that range from hovels to grand mansions.

The cast is terrific, and Lee Osorio as Pip offers a bravura performance. He’s on stage for almost the entire two and a half hour running time. As a little boy he’s entirely believable, and, as he passes through life’s stages, moving from lower-class urchin to wealthy gentleman, he’s truly compelling.

This isn’t One of Book-It’s best novel-to-theatre pieces, but even so-so Book-It productions are better than lots of other fare you’ll find in Seattle. If you loved the novel, you’ll find much to appreciate in this adaptation. If you’re one of the few who’s never read it, go on-line and read a synopsis before you get to the theatre. Then go home and read the novel. Oprah’s doing just that.

Through March 6 at the Center House Theatre, Seattle Center. (206-216-0833 or www.book-it.org)

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