GREAT EXPECTATIONS – a performance extraordinaire, by Andrew Macdougall

Dear friends & colleagues

For the past few years, I have been doing Charles Dickens impersonations – I perform one or more of the “readings” he used to give which were adaptations of extracts from his books and stories. These aren’t just “readings”, they are performances.

The next one I will be doing is rather special – it is Great Expectations, based on one of Dickens’ best-loved books. It is special because Dickens’ started the adaptation, but never finished it; I have finished the job!

I will be performing it twice:


  • On Friday, November 24th at the McGill Community for Lifelong Learning (MCLL) at 10:00 (MCLL is at 688 Sherbrooke West, corner University)

  • On Wednesday, December 6th at 14:00 at the Westmount Library (4574 Sherbrooke W.)

If you would like to attend the MCLL show please let me know & I will arrange it; there will be a $10 charge.
If you would like to attend the Westmount Library show you will need to call by the library and get a (free) ticket; if this would be inconvenient let me know & I can pick up a ticket for you.

Information about the readings is attached below.

Hoping to see you in the audience.



Charles Dickens was as much a performer as a writer; in fact, towards the end of his life, he made much more money from his “readings” in England and the US than he did from his writing. For these readings, he chose extracts from his books (or stories he had written) to which his audience would strongly react emotionally, and adapted them for performance. This is a re-creation of such a Dickensian performance.

Great Expectations was Dickens’ thirteenth novel, first published in serial form between December 1860 and August 1861. The novel is about a humble orphan who becomes a gentleman with the help of an unknown benefactor.

Shortly after completing the novel Dickens tried to adapt it for public reading (maximum two hours) but could not complete it. Mr. Macdougall has attempted to complete the daunting task – you can judge how well he has done. The reading will last about two hours, including a short intermission.


Pip – the narrator – initially a humble orphan
Mrs. Joe Gargery – Pip’s older sister and caregiver
Joe Gargery – her husband – a blacksmith
Magwitch – a convict
Mr. Pumblechook – Joe’s uncle
Miss Havisham – a wealthy eccentric
Mr. Jaggers – her solicitor
Mathew Pocket – a relation of Miss Havisham’s – becomes Pip’s tutor
Herbert Pocket – his son – becomes Pip’s flat-mate
Wemmick – Jaggers’ clerk
Compeyson – Magwich’s accomplice, and then his bitter enemy
Arthur – Miss Havisham’s half-brother


Wittles – victuals – food
Battery – gun emplacement
Gibbet – gallows
Baker’s dozen – thirteen
Jack-towel – roller-towel
Hulks – prison-ships
Warmint – vermin
Chaise-cart – light horse-drawn carriage
Prodigal – the “lost” son in the parable
Indentures – contract binding an apprentice to a master
Portmanteau – suitcase
Barnard’s Inn – formerly a law school – then, residential chambers
Counting-house – the accounting department of a business
Private marriage – marriage by licence
The Temple – an area of London where lawyers have their offices (Inns of Court)
Galley – long slender row-boat