Brighton Fringe 2013
"This is an amusing one-man play in which Mr Pickwick relates some of his adventures and how he is unjustly incarcerated in the Fleet Debtors Prison. He also plays some of the vivid characters he meets on his travels. Mr Pickwick’s life is changed through his observing numerous scenes of which he had no previous conception."
A man who is no stranger to playing Mr Pickwick, Nigel Nevinson has imagined a Pickwick on trial and, for the Brighton Fringe has aptly chosen The Old Courtroom to perform this piece.
A hat stand and a trunk, the sound of hoof beats, we are back in Dickensian times and we enter the no longer comfortable life of Samuel Pickwick.
This is fluent monologue about a man who never banked on prison awaiting trial. The writing provides a safe and confident haven for Nevinson’s talents as a character actor. Minimal set, simple props, (used creatively and to great comic effect) appropriate costume, Nevinson brings Pickwick to life endearingly and with poise and aplomb. The story engages through an accessible narrative.
Some of the sound effects sounded too detached and felt unnecessary. Also there’s some unnecessary shuffling – the piece would benefit from some breaths of stillness. The second half, focused on the courtroom is clearer- there’s a lot packed into the first half- wee meet so many characters and there are a lot of scene changes, we were a tad confused.
But the character is held and portrayed with impressive focus and consistency, and the spirit and style of Dickens is in safe hands with Nigel. Nevinson. He has a rich and vibrant voice that found Its way into every nook and corner of the Old Courtroom.
This is a skilfully constructed piece that is full of changes, twists and turns giving us a sense of the lack of calm inside Mr Pickwick’s own tumult of a mind. A lot of characters are portrayed and most of this is achieved with voice – this is not a strongly physical performance and nor is it meant to be. It’s straight up, character theatre done by a fine actor.
The piece steps up a gear during the court scene and the venue itself becomes a player in the piece. Nevinson really comes into his own here playing accuser and defender, witness and accused, as well as holding storyteller at the core. I’m glad shows like this come to the Fringe written and performed by such an experienced and accomplished actor. There is plenty of texture in the creation and portrayal of the characters.
This is vibrant and enjoyable theatrical storytelling using a well known and loved character from Dickens to tell a splendid story.