There are numerous shows about Charles Dickens and adaptations of his canon doing the rounds. From a variety of one person shows through to epic West End musicals, you would think that you have either seen or heard it all as far as Charles Dickens is concerned. Gonzo Moose crush that thought with a swift 90 minute clout to the head that is What the Dickens!.
It is clear from the star the cast of three - Mark Conway, Emily Murphy and Chris Porter - are going to have their work cut out for them. Setting up a sprawling Victorian detective story with hundreds of characters, cast and audience alike are complicit in the style of the piece and buy into every nod, wink, smoke and mirror of the theatrical sleight of hand that they play.
As a young, eager journalist, Dickens is already showing signs of his ability to make a description stretch for pages. His editor however has a different idea. Keep to the facts or lose your job. On the way to this job saving assignment, he gets dragged into a world of mystery, subterfuge and a Victorian underworld that is sure to prove inspirational once he embarks upon life as a novelist.
To say more wouldn’t do justice to the company or the show. As a trio they are exceptional. They embrace their characters, embrace the style and more importantly have a ball doing it for their audience. Mandy Dike and Ben Rigby’s design is the icing on the cake allowing the actors to manipulate the stage to suit the scene and build to a stunning climax on top of St. Paul’s.
What the Dickens! grabs you by the lapels and drags you along for a ridiculous, riotous and genuinely inspired ride and must be seen.