Cambridge's leading amateur theatre production company

Established 1981

Dickens' Children & Normal Nesbitt
 written and directed by Nick Warburton

Michaelhouse, Cambridge and Edinburgh Fringe, July & August 2004

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Reviews of Dickens' Children & Normal Nesbitt
by Julie Petrucci and Edinburgh Fringe reviewers

 
This was my first visit to Michaelhouse - what a neat acting space.  It was also a space, which is challenging for both actors and audience alike.  Being so very close to 'the action' was pretty inhibiting at times.

In Normal Nesbitt written by Nick Warburton,  Suzie Turton gave us Rose, a teacher conducting a parents' evening of interviews.  Suzie pulled us in to the action with her asides and we felt we really could see the parents to whom she spoke.  Poor Alan Nesbitt, 'Normal's father, left us a broken man!  This was a very clever piece of writing brought vividly to life by a talented actress.

We were then treated to a fine piece of ensemble playing by seven actors (plus three chairs and a coat rack) - Dickens' Children skilfully devised and directed by the aforementioned Nick Warburton. 

For just over an hour our emotions were pounded. We were alternately amused, sympathetic, surprised and scared witless by a succession of  Dickens' children and their tormentors, for that is what the adults were in the main. We met Pip from GREAT EXPECTATIONS, the Kenwigs and Smike from NICHOLAS NICKLEBY, David from DAVID COPPERFIELD the Jellybys and Jo the crossing sweeper from BLEAK HOUSE. 
Heart rending performances from James Dowson as Davey, Jo and Smike, truly evil performances by "The Monster" Guy Holmes (Magwitch and the vicious Squeers), amusing performances from Ken Eason as "The Outsider" (Barkis and the avaricious waiter etc.) and fine upright performances by "The Champion" Martin Woodruff (Allan Woodcourt, Nicholas Nickleby etc.).  Dickens ladies, like the majority of his characters, are finely drawn and these were brought to life with great versatility by Tricia Peroni as "The Eccentric" (Miss Havisham, Fanny Squeers etc.), Rosemary Eason as "The Mother" (Mrs Jellyby, Mrs Squeers etc.) and Suzi Turton "The Precocious Child" (Estella, Morleena, Kenwigs etc.).
 
The technical facilities at Michaelhouse are what one might call 'basic', but Richard Peroni managed to create a good atmospheric effect with a minimal amount of lighting.  Bawds presented us with two fine pieces of theatre, which will, I am sure, be well received at the Edinburgh Fringe. 
 
Edinburgh Fringe Reviews
DICKENS' CHILDREN
****
Venue C Central (Venue 54).
Address Carlton Hotel, North Bridge.
Reviewer Ksenija Horvat.

Something stirs in the C Central's Studio 1 in Carlton Hotel on the North Bridge. In the simple setting of an improvised black box theatre, a band of actors draw laughter and tears from their audience.They never miss a beat and are only occasionally overwhelmed by the sound of two fans, which bring much needed fresh air into this confined space.

Dickens' Children is a pastiche of scenes from his novels, sensitively adapted and directed by Nick Warburton. The common thread is Charles Dickens' depiction of the plight of children in Victorian post-industrial society - expect a delightful journey through a variety of works including Great Expectations, Nicholas Nickleby, Bleak House and David Copperfield.

Amongst the superb company of players, special mention to James Dowson whose performance as Dickens and the children is absolutely delightful. Tricia Peroni creates a compelling Miss Havisham, and her portrayal of Fanny Squeers will have you in stitches. Guy Holmes is suitably ominous as Magwitch and Squeers, and Rosemary Eason's motherly characters humorously evoke Dickens' originals. Ken Eason, Suzi Turton and Martin Woodruff offer equally captivating performances - together the cast vividly re-create Dickens' bleak world of greed and misery.

This is a show for both children and grown-ups. It will engage you, entertain you and touch your heart. Do not miss it.
Ksenija Horvat, 16 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com


BAWDS - NORMAL NESBITT

Suzi Turton excels as the teacher who has entrapped a pupil on behalf of the government because he's been scientifically proven to be perfectly average. She conducts her monologue as part Joyce Grenfell, part Snow White's wicked stepmother, and manages to be simultaneously vulnerable, sympathetic and sinister.   It's a clever premise and a well-written script, emphasising the sheer importance of 'middle of the road' as demonstrated in the actions of Gordon Nesbitt who affects the stock markets with his chosen biscuit. A short sketch at the beginning involving two scientists in a clandestine meeting was a bit hit and miss though and didn't really explain itself. Still Normal Nesbitt is better than average.
Three weeks - tw rating 3/5


DICKENS' CHILDREN - Lovely acting,...  23 Aug 2004**** - reviewer: David Robertson, UK
This is a lovely piece, thorough and competent acting. A pleasure to watch. Thank You