Fighting through wind and rain along Broad Street to take refuge in Blackwell’s Bookshop made me feel suitably Dickensian for Creation Theatre’s production of Bleak House.

Cosy, and filled with four floors of books, the beautiful old building added an extra dimension to the setting of this adaptation of a literary masterpiece.

The theatre space itself is in the Norrington Room, where the law books are kept. Most apt for a tale set in the arid purgatory of the Court of Chancery, where over generations the disputed inheritance of Jarndyce and Jarndyce has demented, impoverished and made thoroughly miserable anyone connected with it. The play introduces a fresh-faced generation bustling with idealism entering this byzantine world – only to find many harsh lessons on their journey. And what a roller-coaster of a ride it is!

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Full of the sights, sounds, weird people, and spooky locations that were Dickens’s stock-in-trade, Creation Theatre have presented an excellent dramatic realisation. This Bleak House is peppered with moments of theatrical magic, particularly Mr Crook’s Spontaneous Combustion, and Miss Flite’s attic full of caged birds.

It’s also a musical – with music directed by Joseph Atkins. The songs and incidental music contributed not only to signifying the plot but also to the ambience and tonality of scenes. The cast were all adept at playing various instruments and sang beautifully.

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This busy troupe of four also perform a myriad of roles, switching from one to another with precision. Writer Olivia Mace cleverly uses Dickens’s own trick of giving all the many characters a little foible of speech to identify them across the vast swathes of the plot.

The company, under the direction of Deborah Newbold, also added small compulsive actions/behavioural tics that made it immediately obvious who they were playing. This kept the running of the show agreeably pacey and agile.

Agility was also essential for the actors to actually get around the set. A simple yet ingenious design from Ryan Dwason Laight contained a stage built up to the level of the first balcony of the reading room. Perched on top of that plinth were various tall ‘A Frame’ ladders that served as horse-drawn coaches, gateways to various attics, and many other locations.

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With the addition of a trapdoor below – leading to all sorts of scary localities - it presented as many location possibilities as Dr Who’s Tardis. A great design for the broad canvas of this story.