Reviews of ......
THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
Adapted for the stage by Nick Warburton from the novel by Charles Dickens
Reviewed by Margaret Clark
The RSC allowed themselves the luxury of eight and a half hours playing time for their production of Nicholas Nickleby in 1980. Nick Warburton confined himself to two and half hours including an interval, and what a marvellous job he made of it. The literary world is now celebrating the 200th anniversary of Dickens' birth and this production by BAWDS and Combined Actors at the ADC Theatre, was a worthy contribution to the festivities. Not having read the novel, on arriving home I fell upon a copy of “Who's Who in Dickens” and very soon the characters and narrative were laid out before me. I could now appreciate, even more, Nick's skilful adaptation with set scenes and narrations to link them.
The set scenes were concise and retained the interest of the audience as we galloped through the novel's 65 chapters. Dotheboys Hall conveyed the fear and despair that Dickens discovered in his tour of the North Riding. Crummles' scene from Romeo and Juliet was a highlight as the thespians in the audience appreciated Smike's wonder “Is it true I am to be an actor?” and then the cry of disillusion “I cannot learn the words.” Ralph Nickleby's contrition and demise were moving and masterly portrayed.The versatile set designed by Tony Broscomb and Pattie Jones of the Penguins depicted the City skyline while the alleyways of old London framed a raised acting area allowing the actors to spill down to the stage. The Victorian costumes, supervised by Judy Hanson, were a delight and I dread to think of the hire bill total. Lighting and sound were in the experienced hands of Mark Easterfield and Graham Potter while the live music was supervised by Mike Milne.
Congratulations to playwright, Nick Warburton on condensing this very long novel into one evening, and to director, Colin Lawrence for dealing with the logistics of a formidable saga.To cast and crew and to anyone I have overlooked, be proud! The audience left the theatre in a rosy glow having seen, in Mr Crummles' words, “a family drama” worth every penny of the very reasonable admission cost. The amateur theatre scene in Cambridge is in very talented and capable hands and I look forward to the productions announced for 2012.
NICHOLAS NICKLEBY by Charles Dickens
in a new stage adaptation by
BAWDS/Combined Actors at the ADC Theatre, 9 December 2011
Having only a sketchy idea of the plot of Nicholas Nickleby, I
consulted Wikipedia – and found that the novel runs to 700 pages, with a vast
array of characters and episodes which left me boggling! So the first
congratulations of this review must go to
The set was presented on an open stage to the audience as they entered, and this gave us plenty of time to admire the impressive graphic art, depicting on one side of a central arch an urban setting and on the other a rural one. A block of steps leading to a raised platform centre stage was inventively used for schoolroom and street scenes, with downstage being used for scenes in the Nicklebys’ cottage, with basic pieces of furniture, props and sound and lighting effects indicating the change of location.
My main impression of this show was of a colourful, ever changing scene, full of movement, with the episode rapidly following episode to keep the momentum of the story. Great entertainment, although it did result in the loss of the odd line as actors, keen not to let the pace drop, occasionally talked across one another or just slightly fluffed their words. Some of the lines spoken from the back of the stage were, just occasionally, difficult to hear as well. However, there were some excellent opportunities for characterisation which was seized upon by this talented cast, notably the Yorkshire Squeers family, the odious Sir Mulberry Hawk and his cronies, and the rollicking Crummles theatre company. This was the ultimate ensemble performance and the many cast members combined (no pun intended!) to form a whole that was definitely more than the sum of its parts.
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