Great Expectations Reviews – Starring Eddie Izzard

A Reviews Round-up for Great Expectations at the Garrick Theatre in London, starring actor and comedian Eddie Izzard.

Izzard plays all 19 characters in this unique and hilarious re-telling of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, in a new adaptation by Mark Izzard, directed by Selina Cadell,

This production, featuring Dickens’ classic tale of convicts, mystery, friendship, rivalry, unrequited love, revenge, and redemption, was preformed by Eddie in New York in 2022 to rave reviews, and has proved a perfect match for her idiosyncratic wit and Charles Dickens’ irresistible story.

Izzard’s one-woman version of Dickens’ classic story is playing at the Garrick Theatre until 1 July 2023. 

Read reviews of Great Expectations by The Times, The Telegraph, i News and more, with further reviews to follow.

Book tickets to Great Expectations starring Eddie Izzard at the Garrick Theatre in London

Great Expectations reviews

The Guardian

"Eddie Izzard seduces in charismatic one-woman show"

"Izzard uses humour instinctively, helped by Dickens’s love of the exaggerated or comic grotesque"

"Eddie Izzard performing Great Expectations – but why? That question hangs over the start of this one-woman dramatisation of Charles Dickens’s tale of spurned love and social mobility. But it gets forgotten fairly quickly as Izzard winds us in intelligently and expertly so that this familiar story casts its spell over us anew."

"Out of the bounds of standup, Izzard stays a seductive performer, pacing the narration with no sense of rush and bringing a delicate physical comedy to the stage."

"It is a moot point whether this show confirms Izzard’s credentials as a serious dramatic actor but what she certainly proves here is her unparalleled, really rather sublime, storytelling chops."

Arifa Akbar, The Guardian
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The Telegraph

"Eddie Izzard’s glorious solo Great Expectations is a witty, respectful take on Dickens"

"Sharing a love of exaggerated characters and a well-turned phrase, Dickens and the comedian have a real affinity – as this fine show proves"

"It’s no small statement of thespian capability and, fan though I am, my lurking fear was that, for all Izzard’s past acting credits, the comedian’s personality might swamp the matter at hand. But, no, this is as glorious an evening of singularly rendered Dickens as I’ve encountered, the balance just right between Izzard’s familiar carry-on – that drawling charisma, that flouncing poise – and diligently serving the text itself."

"If there’s a tempting comic opportunity Izzard will grab it, but you can’t easily detect the joins. And there’s simply a natural affinity between Dickens’s genius for a phrase, and his love of characterisation exaggerated and sketched, and Izzard’s long-honed ability to land a line and fast-pivot between personae."

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph
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The Times

"Eddie Izzard’s mighty Dickens marathon"

"To be able to memorise a text as capacious as Dickens’s tale of ambition, class and thwarted love is almost as extraordinary as spending weeks running multiple marathons for charity, another of Izzard’s many achievements."

"... impressive though this show is as a feat of memory, the relentless pace in Selina Cadell’s production becomes a nagging distraction. An awful lot of incident and colour is crammed into Dickens’s tale; watching Izzard reproduce it is akin to listening to an audiobook turned up to double speed."

"Eliza Thompson’s fragments of music provide discreet punctuation. This text, though, needs a bolder scattering of exclamation marks."

Clive Davis, The Times
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i News

"Eddie Izzard does herself and Dickens proud"

"Izzard plays every single character in this beguiling one-woman show"

"Those looking for a palate cleanse after being roughed up by the recent BBC adaptation of this great book will be delighted: these are Dickens’s words, in the order he wrote them, in a judicious adaptation by Izzard’s older brother Mark. All goes swimmingly until this rendition counter-intuitively diminishes in intensity as it approaches the conclusion, as Izzard M fails to provide Izzard E with a clear enough path through the final tumble of revelations and resolutions."

"... Izzard beguiles us in in a production directed with effective simplicity by Selina Cadell. Izzard skilfully surfs the wave of the liveliness of Dickens’s prose, nimbly capturing those striking pen portraits of a comprehensive range of characters."

"Izzard does herself, and Dickens, proud."

Fiona Mountford, i News
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The Evening Standard

"Eddie Izzard’s charm just about gets this thin piece over the line"

"This adaptation of the Dickens classic is neither theatre nor comedy"

"Although I’m a huge fan of Eddie Izzard’s, this solo adaptation of Dickens’s tale feels like an act of hubris. The actor and stand up describes the show as theatre rather than comedy but it’s not really either – more a piece of lackadaisical storytelling that relies on a huge amount of goodwill from the audience."

"The familiarity of the story is counterproductive: Great Expectations is so often retold that a poor adaptation really stands out."

"Izzard’s jokey voices and the precise, comical gestures she uses to invoke a place or person seem at war with the text rather than in service to it – an attempt to funny things up."

"Izzard’s charm just about gets this thin piece over the line, but she only briefly captures the bittersweet pathos of Dickens’s story at the very end."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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"Comedy legend Izzard’s one-woman version of the Dickens classic is great fun if a little conservative"

"Eddie Izzard’s solo offering is a welcome but surprisingly staid addition to the canon, offering a loving, detailed take on Dickens’s most lovable novel. Still, fans won't be disappointed by this pacy two-act show, which showcases Izzard’s ability to hold a room spellbound as she embodies haughty ice queen Stella or gravelly-voiced convict Magwitch."

"... there's not much room for Izzard's rambling, surreal comedic style to spread its wings here."

"It's all quite an old-school, quaint, Edinburgh Fringe-y affair, lifted by Izzard’s charisma and star power. Her fans (and those of Dickens) will be delighted but I wished that more of her wickedness and subversion had been invited to join Miss Havisham’s mouldering banquet."

Alice Saville, TimeOut
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The Stage

"Moments of greatness"

"Eddie Izzard romps entertainingly through the Dickens classic"

"Fresh from a New York run, Izzard’s solo-take finds itself in similar territory: a masterclass in taking the genius of Charles Dickens and making something... perfectly decent."

"Most of the adaptation is third-person narration, and this does get a bit wearing after a while. Izzard excels when she slips into the voice and mannerisms of a character"

"There are brief moments, too, where Izzard seems to ad-lib, and it is like watching those old routines again, with little glimpses of something completely, hilariously wonderful."

"Izzard never misses an opportunity to raise a laugh, Mark Izzard’s script adds a few new jokes, and there are moments when it verges on parody, but it is clear that this is a serious attempt to do Dickens properly. Mostly, it works."

Tim Bano, The Stage
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Daily Mail

"Verdict: Is 'ard not to love it"

"Now we find Izzard doing a spellbinding solo turn in Charles Dickens's saga of self-discovery, Great Expectations. It's a loving, camp, fast-moving synopsis of the book, told from the ever-shifting point of view of the orphaned hero, Pip."

"Trotting about the bare-board stage beneath swooping velvet curtains, Izzard never sentimentalises Dickens's idiom or overloads it with Simon Callow's Christmas pudding locution. But the cunning thing is how that insouciance belies the teetering weight of plot — allowing the two-hour tale to creep up on us and mug us, in much the same way it does Pip."

Patrick Marmion, Daily Mail
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Daily Express

"Eddie, now known off-stage as Susie, brings her stagecraft and playful spirit to a one-woman adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic, echoing the author's readings to adoring crowds."

"... the star soon weaves her charisma and infectious love of mimicry into irresistible storytelling."

Stefan Kyriazis, Daily Express
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📷 Main photo: Great Expectations starring Eddie Izzard Photo by Amanda Searle

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1 thought on “Great Expectations Reviews – Starring Eddie Izzard”

  1. I was quite disappointed that I left almost half way through. Although she is a competent comedian and a lovely person, performing the whole play on her own was not a good idea. She was playing all roles: yes quite amazing in terms of competence and ability but not appropriate or appealing to quite some of us. It’s so boring to have one person speaking all the time, even if this person tries to change the tone to demonstrate different characters or feelings! It does not work. Performing a play is very different from stand-up comedies. That play involves a lot of players who each has their character, characteristics, characterisation, appearance, voice, tone, etc. I did not feel I was attending a play; it was another version of a stand-up comedy that I did not find entertaining or successful.

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