An Evening with Mr. Dickens

16 Jul

I grew up in the company of people whose sanity was frequently in question.

Well, actually, there were a lot of people in my formative years with very strange ideas, but I think this group really defines it.

I performed in my first full-length (all five acts in their entirety; no cutting of lines whatsoever) Shakespeare play at the seasoned age of 12. At 15, I took on G. B. Shaw, and by 17 I was embroiled in this bloody mess. Because every second-semester senior in high school worried about AP tests and college admissions really needs to not only act in but help direct a 9-hour play of some 140 characters. (I did have the advantage of playing Charles Dickens, who doesn’t have to memorize his lines, in one cast. Of course in the other I was simultaneously Kate Nickleby, Miss Bravassa/Benvolio/Benvolia (best not to ask), and Sprouter. If you think it’s fun transforming from a poor, abused, dirty schoolboy of six to a clean and charming young lady of seventeen in all of thirty seconds…well, actually, it was šŸ˜€ )

Now the same theater company which encouraged my youthful acts of theatrical insanity–and to which I have returned as an adult in the capacities of director, audience member, and last-minute Bizhop of Carlizzle (Richard II + 13-year-old boys = …yeah.)–has taken on an endeavor of even more absurd proportions.

When we did The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, the Royal Shakespeare Company had done the hard work of adapting the novel into a play for us. But the current members of the Theatrical Company of Overachieving and Probably Not Quite Right in the Head Young People are putting on a production of Our Mutual Friend in the same style as RSC’s NickNick, adapted for the stage by the program director of the Theatrical Company of Overachieving etc. Young People. He has been a dear friend and mentor to me, and he is also the most Overachieving etc. person on the planet. Which is why, of course, we love him.

I went to see the first half of the 10.5-hour play tonight, because I am still a bit of an Overachieving etc. Young Person myself. As is typical of Dickens, the first act dragged a bit as all of the characters and their various unhappinesses were introduced, but in the second the actors and the audience were free to have much more fun as capers and coincidences and occurrences and much dry social commentary abounded. After living and breathing NickNick for six months before the performances, I’m enjoying watching a Dickensian Monstrosity in which I had no preparatory role šŸ™‚ And since I haven’t read the book (although now I want to), I’m really enjoying watching the plot unfold before my eyes.

Tomorrow I return for the concluding 5+ hours of Dickensian Drama of a Monstrously Melodramatic character…with crocheting in hand, of course. I can’t knit in the darkened theater, but I’m attempting to eat up our stash of acrylic yarn with a granny square blanket for Project Linus.

I hope Mrs. Higden will approve.


Posted by on 16.7.2011 in Crafts, Geekery, Life


Tags: , , , , ,

2 responses to “An Evening with Mr. Dickens

  1. Kim

    23.7.2011 at 11:46 am

    Your Dickens plays sound absolutely wonderful, wish I were there to witness it.
    Cheers from a fellow Dickensian,
    treblemaker aka Kim

    • Myriad

      23.7.2011 at 11:54 am

      It’s a wonderful production, and I’m going back this weekend to see it again šŸ™‚ If you haven’t already seen it, I do highly recommend finding the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 1982 recording of their 9-hour Nicholas Nickleby, which is out on DVD. It’s truly fantastic.


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