Sunday, 24 June 2012



Despite unprecedented feats of forward planning earlier this week, normal behaviour has now been resumed. Frantic flurry at the last minute is so much more my style.
Now I can't deny that I came across a mention of Miriam Margolyes' one-woman show Dickens' Women about two or three weeks ago. At the Pentland Theatre ... well, I thought that was in Scotland. Wouldn't you?
Come on, you London readers, own up ... has any one of you ever heard of the Pentland Theatre?
I thought not. But some good fairy guided me back to that website only three days ago and I realised that the Pentland Theatre is at the end of the Northern Line. In Finchley. Tucked behind the Aldi supermarket. But actually, a lovely little theatre once you get inside. (Couldn't have got lost on Saturday night. Just follow the police sirens and when you see the protesting Zionists, you're there. Can't miss it. Although I think this last feature may be unique to Finchley. Ticket prices are not necessarily inclusive of street theatre in other locations.)

But anyway, that's how I came to get one of the last seats in the slips for last night's performance.
Here is the link to the rest of the tour. To far-flung corners of the UK, followed by the US and Canada.

What can I say ... this was one of the best nights of theatre that I have ever seen in my life. She is brilliant. The Inimitable Miriam Margolyes gave a performance that couldn't have been matched by the Inimitable Dickens himself. (Oh, he would have loved it ... I hope his ghost was hovering somewhere.)
She started with Mrs Gamp ... and then one after another, on they came, simpering girls, then Miss Mowcher (a tour de force), Mrs Micawber, Miss Havisham, Mr Bumble's courtship (hilarious), Flora Finching (even more hilarious, and sad), Miss Flite (utterly heartbreaking.)

If only English teachers could bring Dickens to life like this ...  In the Q&A session afterwards,  incidentally, MM prescribed reading Dickens aloud from the age of 11. No nonsense about him being inaccessible and irrelevant.

Talking to a friend the other day, we agreed that we feel much more engaged by Dickens 2012 than all the razzmatazz surrounding the Jubilee and the obscenely expensive Olympics.
Between the two of us, this year, we have read three novels, plan to read more, have booked for afternoon tea at Gads Hill, have been to readings, performances, children's events, the Museum of London exhibition, read fat biographies, joined in book group discussions, met Dickens' descendants, well, one of them ...
I feel much prouder to be British because of our wonderful literature than I could possibly feel because one pumped-up athlete runs milliseconds faster than another.

6 comments:

A Trifle Rushed said...

Every summer I treat myself to reading a Dickens, sometimes it's new (there are a few I haven't read) more often it's an old favourite.
PS I also read at least one Austen and an Anthony Trollope. Jude x

mary said...

I'm determined to read a new one next, Jude - there's still quite a few that I haven't read, never mind all of his journalism etc. I have Barnaby Rudge and Our Mutual Friend in mind before the end of the year.

Toffeeapple said...

That sounds like a wonderful evening, I bet she is a marvel.

mary said...

It was terrific, Toffeeapple. Her tour is quite extensive - does it go anywhere near you?

StuckInABook said...

She is wonderful - she was on Graham Norton last Friday and gave a bit of Mrs. Gamp, which was delicious.

I was lucky enough to have an English teacher who *did* bring out the best in Dickens - we did Hard Times, and thanks to Mr. Brookes I found it hilarious, and love Dickens primarily as a brilliant, brilliant comic writer.

mary said...

She was wonderful, Simon - and she's going to Oxford and Taunton, so now's your chance.