28 February 2012

Golly Dickens

Dickens receiving his characters / William Holbrook Beard, via Wikimedia Commons

We went to Dickens’ women the other night. It’s a solo performance by Miriam Margoyles. Peter Wilkens gave it a rave review in the Canberra Times and it’s had an illustrious history, Edinburgh festival and performances around the world. Miriam performs as 20 or so women from the text of Dickens and uses it to expand on Dickens himself. I found it interesting enough although I have no particular knowledge or interest in Dickens and no special attraction to Victorian England and no obsession with BBC period dramas. She was truly excellent in portaying these women, but it was too distant and English-obsessed for me. Dickens was not such an attractive character: he treated his wife poorly, he was self-obsessed, seemed to have issues following a lower-middle class background verging on poverty, clearly modelled his characters on his acquaintances and had a thing for 17-year old girls (but then he did have a way with words). I could understand these things but not particularly empathise with him. I’m sickened by the worst of Dickensian-period economics and society but this show was more on the personal level. Little more to say, really. Maybe one for the book clubbers.

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