Brighton Magazine

The Brighton Magazine

Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Thursday 15 August 2019

Review: The Mill On The Floss @ Brighton Little Theatre

Director Claire Lewis brings this lovely adaptation of George Eliot's classic doorstop novel, The Mill on the Floss, to life at the Brighton Little Theatre with gusto. 

Credit Miles Davies Photography

The story of Maggie Tulliver's life is told using the clever device of three actresses playing the part - Naoise Wellings deftly portrays young Maggie - an inquisitive, ambitious and "naughty" child. 

Keziah Israel plays the second, religiously repressed and resigned to her dreary fate, steadfastly suppressing the younger Maggie's elemental nature to bow to the prosaic wishes of her brother - a detailed and transfixing performance. 

The third facet of Maggie, played by Mandy-Jane Jackson, is somewhat caught between the two, juggling her love for the aspiring politician (and her cousin's intended), Stephen Guest, with her unreconciled love for the sensitive and doting Philip Wakem, son of her father's nemesis. 

Jackson captures the conflict between duty and divided love very well. 

These three sides of Maggie's character often appear on stage together, with some delightful little moments of interaction between them - and it's a credit to these fine actresses that the conceit is easily accepted, and in this it is aided by some tender movement sequences between the three.

Portraying Mr and Mrs Tulliver (Maggie's parents), Bill Griffiths and Helen Schlüter shine - providing a line of continuation (and occasional lightness) through much of the narrative. 

In particular, Mr Tulliver's death (spoiler alert) is a very moving moment in a play full of moving moments. 

Another shining performance was given by Alan Stewart, portraying Philip, the intelligent and artistic admirer of Maggie, "malformed" and shunned by society - a most moving and sensitive performance; Stewart's likeability as a character overcame what could have seemed mawkish.

Also of note is Robert Purchese as the pompous and confident Stephen Guest, showering affection on Maggie even as he woos her cousin Lucy (a delightful Lucy Mae Knight). 

Stephen's seduction of Maggie, floating on her beloved Floss in a boat, is portrayed in a beautifully realised sequence, as the weight of the past crowds in and haunts Maggie's future. 

Able support as the disapproving aunt Glegg comes from Ann Atkins. 

With a cast of twenty, it's impossible to pick everyone out, but suffice to say that the everyone more than plays their part.

The production is chock full of original music (courtesy of Michael James) and movement sequences (courtesy of Graham Brown), both of which add immensely to the spectacle, and become vital to moving the action on both thematically and emotionally. 

Occasionally I wished for more text, but this would have come at the expense of these interludes, and if fault it be, it lies in the adaptation rather than the interpretation.

The difficulty of adapting from page to stage is sometimes considered cheating - books like The Mill On The Floss can always be directly compared to the reader-audience "inner vision" of what they saw in their mind's eye when reading it. 

As I am a barbarian having never read Eliot, I had no such preconceptions, and thoroughly enjoyed the production. 

Given the attention to detail and skill on show in everything from costume to the mannerisms of the characters, I can only imagine that Eliot readers will love it too.

In the open air of the BOAT and The Minack, (**see below for dates) the movement sections and the music (which were just a little dizzying given the jewel-box size of The Little) will grow and thrive to fill the stage. 

A beautiful show, moving and thoroughly recommended, at whichever venue you choose to catch it!

** Helen Edmundson's adaptation of George Eliot's novel, The Mill on the Floss, is at Brighton Little Theatre until  this Saturday, 17th of August, before transferring to Brighton Open Air Theatre (21st to 24th) and moving to The Minack, Cornwall )2nd to 6th September 2019).

by: Gary Cook


Ahead of Stephen Daldry's seminal production of JB Priestley's classic thriller An Inspector Calls, which heads to Theatre Royal Brighton, next month, The Brighton Magazine features an enlightening chat with Christine Kavanagh, who plays 'Mrs Birling'.

James Brown collaborator Pee Wee Ellis and singer China Moses bring Funk: A Music Revolution to Brighton Dome, next month, celebrating the genre's influence featuring a line-up of renowned musicians channeling the spirit of funk across the generations.
Credit Andy Sturmey

"I think, how the fuck did that happen, because we did all the wrong things: we didn't bother too much with America but we're the biggest selling live act in the UK." The Stranglers' bassist JJ Burnel is talking about a period from early punk until 1990. But now, thirty years later, the band has announced a final full tour of the UK.

Andrew Maxwell may not be a comic you would describe as overtly political, but this mercurial Dubliner does tackle the broader issues by discussing normal people, often finding joy in the idiosyncrasies of humans.
Credit Julian Bailey

Zoe Graham's new single Sleep Talking is a song written from experience, having fallen out of love with an ex-girlfriend and keeping her true feelings hidden. 

In a packed and highly competitive field, Laura Lexx is rising quickly as one of the country's brightest stand-up stars. She's appeared on the likes of Live At The Apollo on the BBC, The Jason Manford Show on Absolute Radio, and Roast Battle on Comedy Central, while also regularly hosting The Comedy Club on BBC Radio 4 Extra. 
Credit Piers Foley for Target Live

It's the comedy that took Paris by storm, was made into a hit film and received rave reviews when its English‐language adaptation premiered in Birmingham two years ago. So it's no wonder that Joe Thomas didn't hesitate to say yes to starring in the first‐ever UK tour of What's In A Name?, which visits Theatre Royal Brighton, this April.
Credit Dean Stockings

Brighton Fringe have announced Alison Lapper MBE as their new Freedom Season Ambassador. Alison is a renowned artist, television presenter and speaker who is also well known for being the subject of the sculpture Alison Lapper Pregnant, which was on display the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square from September 2005 until late 2007.

Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival's music education service, led by Brighton & Hove Music & Arts (BHMA) has received a grant of £15,000 from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation to support children who wouldn't normally have access to music making.
Credit Idil Sukan

Award-winning comedian Ed Byrne, who plays Brighton Dome this March, is a household name who enjoys worldwide acclaim for his stand-up. With twenty-five years under his belt, Ed has parlayed his on-stage success into a variety of notable television appearances. 

Reuben started dancing when he was two years old and started attending classes when he was only four. Now thirteen, the Brighton-based wunderkind competes all over Europe in street dancing competitions and recently won the prestigious accolade of World Champion in Advance Solo in the Under 12s division, which he says was an “amazing experience.”
Credit Aeman Sukkar, Jiksaw

Fresh from a totally sold-out, critically acclaimed run at the Edinburgh Fringe, Suzi Ruffell heads for Komedia Brighton with another show that proves she's a stand-up rapidly becoming a household name. With Dance Like Everyone's Watching, this self-titled 'natural worrier' is delighted to shout her newfound happiness from the rooftops.

A re-imagining of Hans Christian Andersen's much-loved fable, The Snow Queen, combining poetry, original music and visuals is coming to Brighton and Lewes.

For the last two years The Lovely Eggs have sat back and watched England and the rest of the planet slowly eat itself.

Archive search

Search our archives for what's on and gone for the best of this city's theatre music comedy news and much more...

Organising a conference or event in Brighton?
See our Brighton Conference section.
Brighton web design by ...ntd