Miriam Margolyes in Dickens' Women
1 July 2012 WOS Rating: Miriam Margolyes is an interesting performer. On TV programmes, such as Graham Norton's chat show - she comes across as a dotty eccentric - incredibly funny but slightly off kilter. On stage - is very commanding and she has the ability to steal scenes. Recently she gave a delicious turn in Sheffield Crucible's Me & My Girl. So, it's only fair that this great lady now has the stage to herself in this extensive tour - which explores the loves, inspirations and back story of celebrated author Charles Dickens and his female characters - that many of us find so fascinating. From the minute that Margolyes steps onto the stage, the audience fall under her spell. She has a chameleon like quality and is able to transform herself into a child, an ageing spinster, or an old busy body. Her gestures, facial expressions, brilliant voice manipulation and the way she is able to contort her body is stunning to watch and totally mesmerising. Some have crticised this production as being a glorified lecture with no substance. Margolyes does not attempt to preach or teach. She gives an incredibly balanced view of Dickens and his work and is not afraid to criticise him, where necessary. She is a far cry from the sycophant we often see on stage when a writer's life is being presented. Her Miss Havisham, Miss Flight and Little Nell all have depth to them. She takes these celebrated characters from the page and gives them light and shade. I was reminded of the excellent childrens' show from yesteryear Jackanory - as this actress is a superb storyteller. And as a result, you'll want to read or re-read the likes of Bleak House, Great Expectations and David Copperfield. She is aided by Sonia Fraser's confident direction, Sarah Quinney's illuminating lighting design and Benjamin Lee's Piano which provides an unobtrusive soundtrack. Filled with interesting and amusing anecdotes, poignant tales, bags of enthusiasm and passionate delivery - Dickens' Women is sublime. As for Margolyes herself - she is like an inspirational teacher; totally in the moment, and she delivers an immersive and gripping piece of theatre. (Reviewed at the Lowry, Salford) - by Glenn Meads Related Content
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