Cambridge's leading amateur theatre production company

Established 1981

The Old Curiosity Shop
by  Charles Dickens adapted by Nick Warburton   directed by Colin Lawrence

The ADC Theatre, Cambridge, December 2013

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A Review of The Old Curiosity Shop
by  Chris Avery

On entering the ADC auditorium and being confronted by the towering set depicting Dickens' London, the audience immediately knew what they were in for: a big production in all senses of the word.

The twenty-six strong cast did full justice to this stage adaptation of Dickens' book. Nick Warburton kept all the major characters and one or two of the minor ones to create something which those familiar with the book would not only recognise but enjoy and those whom it had passed by would maybe be encouraged to read.
Of course we had the larger than life characters like the awful Daniel Quilp played with great gusto by Dave Foyle. Quilp's dreadful treatment of those around him, particularly his wife Betsy (Alexandra Fye) was tempered by the manner in which Mr Foyle made his behaviour, bad as it was, amusing to the watcher. Even formidable ma-in-law Mrs Jiniwin (Rosemary Eason) gave way eventually. There were many excellent performances making up this first class production: Adam Daniels as Dick Swiveller and Sandra Birnie as Mrs Jarley to name but two, but this should take nothing away from Sarah Middle as Nell and Chris Hudson as Kit nor anyone else. I could go on but this would just turn into a list of names.

The script offers great scope for all players and director Colin Lawrence gave full rein to his expertise ensuring all aspects of the production were dealt with at the highest level. It is often the case with large cast productions that smaller roles are sidelined in favour of the more major parts. Not so here as minute attention was paid to all roles and it showed. The ensemble work was second-to-none.

The show was superbly costumed, the staging was impressive and scene changes slick. The set was incredibly imaginative with design artwork by Barry Brown. The raised area worked well as the street and creative use of the acting area down front doubled/tripled for other scenes with the rearrangement of chairs and a table.

Lighting was extremely effective and the choice of music suitable and not intrusive.
The story of Little Nell has a sad ending with Nell dying and Grandfather following her soon after so therefore it was inspirational by Mr Warburton to have Mrs Jarley vow to preserve their story in wax - an inspirational ending creating a brilliant curtain call!
This was an excellent production which played to deservedly full houses. Another successful joint venture for Cambridge's two leading production companies.