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REVIEW: Nae Expectations (Tron Theatre Company, Glasgow)

Updated: Jan 17

24 October 2023

Tron Theatre, Glasgow


Nae Expectations, Tron Theatre Company, Glasgow. Andy Arnold, Gary McNair. Photo: Joe Connolly/Jamhot

Nae Expectations is Artist Director Andy Arnold's last production for Tron Theatre Company after 16 years with the organisation. For his 40th show, along with writer Gary McNair, Andy has relocated Charles Dicken's classic novel 'Great Expectations' north, to the mean marshes of Glasgow.

Dicken's original material is dark, tragic and full of weird and wonderful characters... What better place than Glasgow to bring them gloriously to life.

Young orphan Pip (Gavin Jon Wright) narrates the story of his life, starting with a frightening encounter with the convict Magwitch (the magnificent Gerry Mulgrew) in a cemetery. The atmosphere is wonderfully eerie; rolling fog and meticulous lighting set the scene perfectly.

Against his better judgement, Pip steals from his sister and her kind husband Joe in order to provide Magwitch with the food and iron file he has asked for. It is these themes of crime and guilt, right and wrong, that run through the whole play as Pip battles with his conscience and his desire to escape his tough life. When Pip is invited to play at the grand Satis House, he meets eccentric Miss Havisham and her beautiful ward Estella. Immediately on seeing the house and the girl Pip desires to become 'better class' and to be worthy of Estella's hand. But just what does 'better' mean? At what cost comes social advancement and wealth?

Karen Dunbar in Nae Expectations, Tron Theatre Company, Glasgow. Andy Arnold, Gary McNair. Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic

Although Dicken's full novel has been cut for the stage, we lose none of the lessons nor the moral themes. Most of the eccentric, monstrous and memorable characters remain too. Cruel and unattainable Estella (Jamie Marie Leary), mad and vengeful Miss Haversham (Karen Dunbar), bonkers Kelvin Pocket (Simon Donaldson), pompous Pumblechook and dodgy lawyer Mr Jaggers (Grant Smeaton) and more. Gary McNair has done a brilliant job of adapting a pretty hefty and beloved book in to a sharp, fresh and accomplished comedic play. By injecting a good amount of Scottish humour and some monumental swearing too, this is truly Great Expectations with a Glasgow tongue.

Anchoring the show with an exceptional performance is Gavin Jon Wright as Pip. Acting as both narrator and protagonist, Pip grows from a frightened young boy to a gentleman before our eyes, and through every aspect of his journey Wright plays him perfectly. Pip is at once funny, charismatic, immature and confused; and he shows every emotion on his face. He's sympathetic and believable, and when he breaks the fourth wall to confide in the audience, it only serves to warm us to him more. This is a remarkable and confident performance from Wright and I can't rave about him enough. Phenomenal.

Simon Donaldson broke my heart as lovely, kind, Joe. The scenes with Pip and Joe together are glorious. It's not often I feel a strong emotional connection to characters on stage, but these two actors have created something special.

Gavin Jon Wright and Simon Donaldson in Nae Expectations, Tron Theatre Company, Glasgow. Andy Arnold, Gary McNair. Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic

The cast here are all excellent, and with a fantastic, accessible book, along with tight staging and direction, I was thoroughly entertained from beginning to end. The action flows well from Pip's modest home to the grandeur of Miss Haversham's mansion, and with some brief but magnificent video to compliment the physical set too, the dramatic climax at Satis is brilliantly realised.

A great production with a wonderful story at it's heart; I have never enjoyed Dickens more. Playing at Glasgow Tron Theatre until Saturday 4th November, Nae Expectations is a triumph and a fitting send-off for a great advocate of Scottish Theatre, Andy Arnold.


🎟️ Ticket info

Venue: Tron Theatre, 63 Trongate, Glasgow G1 5HB

Dates: Thu 19 Oct – Sat 4 Nov 2023, 7.30pm (matinees Sat 28 Oct & 4 Nov, 2.30pm; schools Thu 26 Oct & Thu 2 Nov, 10.30am)

Tickets: £15.50, £17 or £20 (Previews £11) Box Office: 0141 552 4267 or


Joe Gargery Simon Donaldson

Miss Havisham Karen Dunbar

Estella Jamie Marie Leary

Abel Magwitch Gerry Mulgrew

Mr Pumblechook Grant Smeaton

Pip Gavin Jon Wright


Writer Gary McNair after Charles Dickens

Director Andy Arnold

Set & Costume Design Jenny Booth

Lighting Design Benny Goodman

Sound Design Ross Brown

📸 Promotional images: Joe Connolly/Jamhot

📸 Production photos: Mihaela Bodlovic

Nae Expectations, Tron Theatre Company, Glasgow. Andy Arnold, Gary McNair. Photo: Joe Connolly/Jamhot

🌟REVIEW: Nae Expectations (Tron Theatre Company, Glasgow)🌟

🎟️ Disclosure: I was invited to review this show and received a complimentary ticket in exchange. Whether I am invited or not has absolutely no impact on my reviews or star ratings.

📧 For media and review requests contact

💗 To see more pictures and watch my videos follow @Lisa_InTheTheatre on Instagram

Lisa in the theatre. Scottish theatre reviewer. UK theatre blog. Glasgow Theatre. Edinburgh Theatre. Scotland theatre.

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