23 May 2023
5.0 out of 5.0 stars
Bleak Expectations, based on the BBC Radio 4 series, is, as the title suggests, a Dickensian parody. Drawing from Bleak House and Great Expectations, but also mashing it up with a host of English stereotypes, Python-esque comedy bits, and a big dose of silliness. Additionally, the role of the narrator is taken on by a different celebrity each week, though this does seem a bit gimmicky to me personally.
The set is bright and comic-esque, with furnishings that seem just a little too large, or too small, or too crooked, which aids the flow of the story immensely. From flat slap-stick type moments, to more complex dark humour, to perfectly executed parody, Bleak Expectations has it all. While it isn’t a piece with intellectual depths that will inspire generations, I’d argue that this isn’t what every play needs to set out to do. Sometimes a simple comedy that leaves the audience in stitches is just what is needed to brighten bleaker times.
The show does poke fun at some current socially relevant topics, but is mostly just a hilarious sketch-comedy-turned-full-length-play, executed exceptionally well. While the plot keeps getting more and more ridiculous, with a few predictable moments here and there, it does not feel bland or formulaic at all. I had a fantastic time watching Bleak Expectations, and can definitely recommend it to anyone needing a good laugh!