August 13, 2015

Little Women

Wellington Repertory Theatre are currently staging Little Women at Gryphon Theatre. If you loved the book as a child no doubt you’ll enjoy seeing the characters come to life on stage.

The play suffers from trying to fit too many separate scenes into such a short time. The first half, the original Little Women, dragged despite jumping from episode to episode. There were drawn out silences as curtains were swept across the background scene. The second half, based on Good Wives, allowed for more character development, particularly explaining the relationship between Laurie and Amy which had been unsatisfying in the book. There were some moving moment based around Beth including an effective moment where she is revealed as too good and pure for this world.

Aunt March was especially good, despite an occasionally slipping accent. Meg and Laurie unfortunately looked too old for their roles which was extremely distracting but may have been a necessary evil to transition from childhood to adulthood. But the biggest casting error was casting the same actor for Mr March and the Professor, thereby making Jo fall for the man who played her father. It was unintentionally uncomfortable perhaps in part because of the lack of any sort of foundation for their relationship.

There was other unintentional humour as modern interpretations of words or events differ from when the book was published. The March girls are just as grating on stage as they are in print; broad caricatures of types rather than real people and insufferably good. An onlooker may have thought the play was staged by a religious group, helped along with the idea by the choral singing from the wings – sometimes at levels which made it difficult to hear dialogue. A line from the play is particularly apt “get rid of the moralising and stick to the drama.”

Performances: 12-15 & 20-22 August, 8pm; 16 August, 3pm; 19 August 6.30pm
Tickets: $25
To book: 479 3393 or


  1. Not to bring down this review, but the line the reviewer was aiming for-- "leave out the moralizing, make it brief and dramatic" --was in fact the advice the play's antagonistic editor gave Jo in the second act, leading to the dragging down of her work until eventually she was "selling out", and publishing for nothing other than the cash. Just a thought.

  2. I'm not entirely sure you realize the script wasn't written by Wellington Repertory, but instead by Emma Reeves; this adaptation was originally performed at the Duchess Theatre in 2004.