Brighton Fringe 2014
Three actors take us through the life of a great British author. Performed with a huge amount of energy and fun we learn about Dicken’s life and times.The play is entertaining and educational.
This is more like an express train through Dickens rather than ‘A Dash Through Dickens’ but we are told with great clarity about Dicken’s life and writing. The three actors, dressed alike in jeans and ‘Dash Through Dickens’ t-shirts, speak very quickly, with every word audible and understood. Performed with great energy as in the style of Horrible Histories, the cast change quickly, sometimes with great silliness, into characters from the books and from Dicken’s life and there are even some songs thrown in.
Plenty of information about the life of Charles Dickens is given although possibly there could be a bit more. For instance they could describe that blacking is shoe polish (Dickens worked in a blacking factory when he was 12 years old). His life is generally summarised from his birth, his childhood, the start of his writing career, his growing fame, marriage, affairs, lecture tours and finally ill health and death. The horrors of Victorian England are only touched upon and Dickens wages are given in old pounds which could have been given a modern day equivalent. The play is very apolitical & although they talk about the Victorian age being very different from today, there are many similarities between the Victorian age and modern times with the gap in wealth between the very poor and the very rich being so extreme.
Young people are made aware of the fact that basic everyday things like electric lights didn’t exist in Dicken’s time which is something that young people probably don’t think about. Some of the skill of the show is enlightening the younger audience about the writer’s life through modern references. Dicken’s marital problems are shown in the light of a Jeremy Kyle show and the actors describe how Dickens conquered America long before One Direction did.
It is also pointed out that although many people may think Oliver is a musical film, the film was in fact adapted from a novel. These modern references must help younger people to learn facts which could otherwise be quite boring. Most of his works are mentioned including an enactment of the whole of ‘A Christmas Carol’.
Although aimed at a younger audience the play is still of interest to all ages. I’m sure most people do not know much about Dicken’s life and people who see the play will leave more enlightened about one of Britain’s greatest authors.