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Bleak Expectations
Bleak Expectations

Bleak Expectations


About Bleak Expectations

Enjoy a Charles Dickens-inspired play that’s set to shake up the West End. See if a plucky Victorian hero can save the day and book Bleak Expectations tickets on TodayTix.

Great Expectations details orphan Philip Pirrip’s coming-of-age story. But in the Bleak Expectations play, it’s all about young Pip Bin. Even though the half orphan and wannabe hero tries to save the day, he finds himself in disastrous situations. With the help of sisters Pippa and Poppy, the plucky protagonist beats disguises, conspiracies, and boarding schools to write his own happy ending.

Based on the BBC Radio 4 series of the same name, Pip Bin’s stories now come alive on stage. Expect plenty of Britishisms in this hilarious play. The Guardian praised its quaintness, saying the original radio show “bursts into life as an adrenalised stage adaptation filled with fast-paced physical comedy, joshing satire and oodles of silliness.”

Join a medley of much-loved faces as they guest star as Sir Philip “Pip” Bin in the West End run. You'll want to see Bleak Expectations in London on multiple occasions to witness different takes on the role.

  • 3-7 May: Nina Wadia
  • 9-14 May: Dermot O’Leary
  • 16-21 May: Sally Philips
  • 23-28 May: Robert Lindsay
  • 30 May - 4 June: Sue Perkins
  • 6-11 June: Julian Clary
  • 13-18 June: Adjoa Andoh
  • 20-25 June: Craig Ferguson
  • 27 June - 2 July: Lee Mack
  • 4-9 July: Stephen Mangan
  • 11-16 July: Jo Brand
  • 18-23 July: Tom Allen
  • 25-30 July: Jack Dee
  • 1-6 August: Alexander Armstrong
  • 8-13 August: Stephen Fry
  • 15-20 August: Ben Miller
  • 29 August - 3 September: Nish Kumar

Important Information We strongly recommend and ask you to wear a face covering during your visit to The Criterion - including during the performance - unless you have an exemption.

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Tell Me More

Mark Evans’s Bleak Expectations parodies Victorian storytelling tropes. Even though the title is based on Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations, there’s references to popular Victorian costume dramas, as well as science fiction stories. Sure, there’s plenty of wacky stories, but it spoofs an era with heart. As The Guardian said: “if it is comfort theatre, it also zings with intelligence, imagination and comic anarchy.”

The play started out at the Watermill Theatre in Newbury in summer 2022. After rave reviews, Bleak Expectations now transfers for a summer season at the Criterion Theatre.

What to Watch For:

  • Bleak Expectations started out as a radio comedy series. The Radio 4 show aired for five series from 2006 to 2012, and won a British Comedy Guide Editors' Award.
  • Tom Allen, who is set to star in the show for one week, originated the role of Pip Bin in the radio series. His radio co-stars included Sarah Hadland, David Mitchell, Celia Imrie, Joanna Page, Sophie Thompson, and Tom Hollander.
  • To mark the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’s birth, the BBC commissioned a Bleak Expectations spinoff television series. The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff parodied Dickens’s popular novels: Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, and A Christmas Carol, to name a few.
Run time

2 hours 15 minutes (inc. interval)

Start date

May 3rd, 2023

End date

September 3rd, 2023




Criterion Theatre


10+. Guidance on Content: This performance uses prop guns and contains loud noises, haze and at points flashes of light.

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