Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 29 (1998) Published by The George Eliot Fellowship, http://georgeeliot.org/
Following on from his extremely successful stage adaptation of Adam Bede, which won a Time Out award in 1991, Geoffrey Beevers chose to bring another George Eliot masterpiece, Silas Mamer, to the stage at the Orange Tree theatre.
With four stage exit and entry points, this theatre-in-the-round offered a perfect opportunity to create the pace required to move through a tale spanning thirty years in the confines of a two and- a-half-hour play. The cast took full advantage, with actors narrating from all corners while the scene developed centre stage, giving the audience no time to lose the thread.
Narration was interwoven with action and, with an inspired use of props whereby a simple bench became both the hurdle for Godfrey Cass's horse to meet its fate, and a dressing mirror to reflect the beauty of Nancy Lammeter, the production was full of innovation and surprises. Of particular merit was the imaginative presentation of the children. Skillfully manipulated by their adult 'minders', rag dolls of human proportions convincingly portrayed the young Aaron and Eppie. Their voices and mannerisms created a charming evocation of childhood mischievousness, while the 'Eppie in the coal-hole' scene was, as in the novel, pure magic.