Retelling the tale of Four head-strong sisters during the American Civil war as they evolve from childhood to womanhood, Little Women is a timeless classic that has been adapted into many forms; from film to opera. However, Gillian Armstrong’s filmic adaptation being 13 years old, means there’s a new generation of audience needing their own adaptation to fall in love with. It’s safe to say, this BBC production will not fail in that respect.
The choice of splitting the narrative into three parts is interesting and allows the story to breath and evolve organically. It remains to be seen how they will deal with the time jump that appears within the book, but this episode certainly ended at the right point to satisfy the viewer.
It’s a beautiful and heartfelt adaptation with a perfect cast of new actors and veteran stars. They work together with such chemistry, you’re pulled into the world of the March Sisters. Its a delight to see Angela Lansbury play Aunt March, the matriarch of the family. Her sternness and underlying warmth is a stark contract to other roles she’s played.
All of the actress’ playing the March sisters are strong but the stand out in this initial episode is, as it often is with Little Women adaptations, Maya Thurman-Hawke who plays the hot tempered and audience favourite Jo. Thurman-Hawke gives Jo a softer edge and a more self-aware struggle than other incarnations. She is complimented by Scream alumni Willa Fitzgerald who plays the eldest sister Meg. It’s a wonderful to see her acting evolve to fit a period drama after two seasons of her being traumatised by a person in a mask.
What ties this adaptation together and projects it beyond others that have come before it is the production value; from the costumes to the setting there is a feeling of authenticity and passion that welcomes you. The music, while seemingly not of the period is stunning and compliments the dark nights in which you’ll be watching this drama.