City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Miss Havisham's Ghosts Review

By Kenneth Scott - Posted on 26 August 2010

Miss Havisham's Ghosts
Show details
Surgeon's Hall
Havisham Productions
Running time: 
Trish Knight-Webb (writer), Richard Westcott (designer), Oliver Goodwin (lighting designer)
Trish Knight-Webb (Miss Havisham)

“What wind blew you here?” asks Miss Havisham as she sits at her dressing-table, frozen in time, preparing for her wedding that should have taken place 25 years ago. The clocks are stopped forever at twenty minutes to nine. A nuptial that never was.

This one-woman show explores what drove the jilted bride of Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations to ruin not only her own life but that of those about her. We are going to hear it from her – the true story. It’s an account that sees Miss Havisham play the dutiful daughter and win a chance of happiness only to be cheated and left at the altar. Locking herself away from sunlight, surrounded by the mildewing wedding feast she brings up her adopted daughter Estella as an ice-maiden to wreak revenge on the male sex - to “break their hearts and have no mercy”.

Miss Havisham has been described as “part of the permanent furniture of… the Western mind” and so the production sensibly uses much of the text from the original novel, although sometimes moving it around, and also sticks closely to the original plot. 

There is perhaps some mitigation for her monstrous behaviour. Rather than the “spoilt” childhood of the novel with her father denying her nothing, she seems lonely and starved of love as she is thrust into the hands of a succession of nursemaids. She tells of her troubled relationship with her half-brother and she reveals a secret that has gnawed at her as the mice have gnawed at the discarded wedding cake.

The play is nicely written, cleverly constructed and works entirely successfully as a separate entity. Trish Knight-Webb tells the inverted fairy tale with weary regret rather than demonic fervour in what is a very watchable performance. With a little more fluidity we could be convinced that we are in the presence of Miss Havisham.

23-28 August, 12.20pm

£7 (£5)