Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (RSC 1980)

I have finished watching Nicholas Nickleby, all eight hours are gone. What the heck am I going to do tomorrow?! I am quarrantined with some sort of flu, the second bout of tonsilitis in a month is over and has been replaced with this new sickness. Bloody irritating. But if I hadn't been ill for so long I don't know when I'd have got around to watching this.
And what a rollercoaster it was! It was beautiful! I wish I had been there! In the theatre that is, seeing it live, not living a Bleak Expectations sort of life (series four is currently playing on Radio 4). The cast were amazing, I'll get to that in a minute, I just want to stress first how perfect the production was in every sense; music, costumes, stage direction and design, wow! I'm so glad it was filmed and that thirty years on I got to see it.
Ah, now, actor-fest! That will cheer a sickly Amy, spotting character actors and trying to place them. I loved John McEnery most of all, he played a number of outrageous drunk characters, including the madly dressed Mr Mantalini, you know I have a weakness for charming drunkards. Bob Peck as the heroic yorkshireman and the villain after Kate was brilliant in both roles, I liked him. Alun Armstrong was his usual, but I expect this was before we knew what his usual was, so he was really fantastic as disgusting arsehole Mr Squeers, I liked how the audience cheered both times he got the crap kicked out of him but weren't really involved in the rest of the eight hour recording at all! An assortment of brilliant comic turns from ladies and Suzanne Bertish and Janet Dale and damn near everyone else too!
And the leads, David Threlfall very moving as Smike (not nearly as annoying as I've seen him portrayed before), Roger Rees, who- being a bear of very little brain and not keeping up with the West Wing- I recognised instantly from Cheers, was excellently foolish and angry in the title role and as his sister Emily Richard was equally charming and tragic. Best of all the Nicklebys however for me was Ralph, the cold, evil uncle! (Good old Dickens) Played by John Woodvine - the only cast member of David Tennant's RSC Hamlet who I actually saw walking around Stratford, oh wait I saw Tennant too, he was eating dinner in the same restaurant as me, I was more excited by Woodvine though!- he was my favourite. He handled the unravelling of the character very well and delivered a bonus performance as the opera singer in the show Kate went to see!
And unfortunately, though I found Edward Petherbridge's Tony nominated performance of Newman Noggs brilliantly entertaining I couldn't help thinking that with his mad hair, grim countenance, sickly palour and pinkish nose that in my present state I look exactly like him.

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