touring/New Ambassadors Theatre, London WC2
Opened in London 4 April, 2001

The Shared Experience company's greatest hit returns; seven years on, this stage adaptation of George Eliot's novel is still impressive.

Adaptor Helen Edmundson's masterstroke is to have Eliot's heroine Maggie Tulliver played by three different actresses: one for the eager, childlike aspect, one for the self-denying adolescent phase, a third for the adult trying to reconcile all the competing impulses within her. And one doesn't just follow on from another: since we never really outgrow our old selves, each remains onstage around her successors and sometimes all three argue with each other.

Directors Nancy Meckler and Polly Teale always maintain that the physical and visual aspects should be of equal importance to the words; movement is used to great effect, although not always successful the "transitions between Maggies" seem a bit gratuitous. But the adaptation and production combine in a powerful telling of Eliot's story of a young independent-minded woman trying to find her way on a life that doesn't allow her the freedom she requires; this version even solves some of the problems often felt by readers of the novel. In May and June it tours to the U.S.A. and China, and deservedly so.

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Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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