35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
How can people act like this?!,
This review is from: The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby [DVD]  (DVD)
The Royal Shakespeare Company's 'Nicholas Nickleby' is one of the things that have had the deepest effect on me. Almost 20 years ago I saw it on TV and finally decided to get this and see if it really was that great. It was. Better even.
Of course, Dickens' book is wonderful, the story and characters are marvellous and Trevor Nunn's adaption is amazing. And the cast then - WOW! As the others said, only Roger Rees has one part, Nicholas Nickleby, and it's easy to see it would be rather impossible to give him other parts, Nicholas being on stage so much. Others have several parts from opera singers to clouds and walls. (Thank you for the leaflet that has the cast and their roles) Rees is a bit old for his part but still creates a very believable, innocent Nicholas. On the other hand: schoolboys are all adults and such is great acting, that you don't want to laugh when they claim to be 7 or 8 years old. Smike is - of course - the most heartbreaking of them, twisted from head to toe, pale and crippled, o-u-t-cast, as he himself says.
The Squeers family stands out, with excellent performances by Alun Armstrong as Mr. Squeers, Lila Kaye as Mrs. Squeers and later as Mrs. Crummles, another kind of 'femme formidable', and Suzanne Bertish, who has to envied and admired for such diverse and delicious parts as Fanny Squeers, Miss Snevellici and Peg Sliderskew, the old hag. They are horrible and wonderful and hilarious! And you don't wonder a bit, why the audience roars, when they get what they so rightly deserve. Alun Armstrong is the first in the closing credits, but he really deserves that place for more than alphabetical reasons.
Uncle Ralph, John Woodvine, is chilling - and it's worth seeing him as an opera singer and just a few moments later as Ralph Nickleby again. And Newman Noggs with his wonderful, droopy face is priceless! I also enjoyed so much the short 'what has happened so far' -scenes at the beginning of acts.
This is theatre at its best, I've never seen anything like this and - I'm afraid - will not see again. My only complaints are technical ones. The picture and sound are good, but why do we have to see the closing credits more than ten times? The acts have been cut into 2-3 parts, so that if you need to stop watching, you don't have to watch the whole act when you can resume watching - but still some of the parts are over 50 minutes long and if you need to stop, you have to fast forward to where you were. And every part ends with those credits. Fortunately you can skip them. Technical flaws aside, this is immortal.
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