Common Ground’s Pat Whymark and Julian Harries have dramatised seven of these and they are presented in a costumed rehearsed reading which it is hoped will develop into a fuller production. It certainly makes a change from the assorted adaptations of Great Expectations which have marked the Dickens bicentenary for far. Harries links the stories as narrator, setting out the context and also taking part, notably in The Boarding House.
Those people dressed with a little authority who then abuse it are pilloried for our enjoyment in Our Parish. The Great Winglebury Duel, later expanded by its author into the full-length play The Strange Gentleman. Mr Minns and His Cousin and Horatio Sparkins have great fun with social pretensions – not to mention husband-hunting (which also crops up in one of the Our Parish sketches) with its trio of lovelorn maidens straight out of WS Gilbert yearning after a languid new curate. And his successor.
Tracy Elster and Janeena Sims have the most varied of the women’s roles with Emilia Petryszyn as a variety of minx-like daughters. Gregory Wagland and Nicholas Bradley bluster along effectively as various patresfamilias while Alfred Harries suggests that he may prove to be a useful chip off the family theatrical block.