SWINDON’S Laura James has scooped her dream role of the iconic Miss Havisham in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations.

Laura is a member of TS Theatre, led by Peter Hynds, which is presenting its production of the famous story at the Wyvern Theatre on Monday, September 11.

Peter is not starring in this production but he is directing the drama, and Laura says she enjoys working with him as director as he makes rehearsals fun, yet has a vision and knows what he is doing. Stuart Quinn is the assistant director.

Laura said: “At the moment we are learning lines and blocking the play but once we have that completed that, I will start to develop my character. Miss Havisham is the type of role I love, it is exciting and I want to do it justice.”

Laura, who is the marketing manager for the Wyvern, has worked with Peter before in the poignant Four Sunsets, which he wrote himself and returned to Swindon last week at the Shoebox Theatre. She played one of the four girls in the play which had been written to closely resemble her own character, but as Miss Havisham she has to be completely different.

Laura says she is reading up on her, but deliberately avoiding watching films or TV adaptations.

“Helena Bonham Carter was my favourite Miss Havisham of all time, but Gillian Anderson was also brilliant in the BBC production,” said Laura, “But I am trying to avoid watching the films again now, because I don’t want to copycat. I want to make the role my own. I want to become her.”

Getting to grips with such a role means Laura is delving into Miss Havisham’s back story and getting her teeth into shaping the gritty part, in the TS Theatre interpretation of the gothic novel.

Laura really enjoys playing opposite both young Pip who is Ben Lancaster, 16, and older Pip, Olly Webb.

“Ben joined the cast later because we needed to find exactly the right young Pip. It was tricky because he is on stage for a lot of the production. He had to be able to carry it off and Ben has done really well.”

Olly has worked at the Wyvern, with Prime Theatre and appeared in Journey’s End at Purton this summer, but this is his first time with TS Theatre.

Taking on the part of Magwitch is Julian Smith, a stalwart of the Swindon scene who has appeared in numerous productions with the Whole Hog Theatre and Old Town Theatre Company.

Great Expectations is part of the schools’ syllabus this year, so Laura hopes students will come along to see the production.

Great Expectations is at the Wyvern Theatre from 7.30pm on Monday, September 11 and tickets are £14, £12 concessions and schools £10. They are available from 01793 524481 or www.swindontheatres.co.uk.