Originally broadcast on Radio 4, this is a superb audio performance - Simon Callow does full justice to Peter Ackroyd's script, which covers Dicken's life, incorporating his work to illuminate that remarkable man. Callow gives a bravura performance, especially when he is re-enacting Dicken's readings - the scene of Nancy's murder by Bill Sykes is as terrifying to the listener as it must have been to its original audiences when it was the thrilling highlight of Dickens's public readings. Both script and performer should feature when the Sony radio awards are selected.
Simon Callow has single-handedly revived my old love of Dickens! The way in which he moves between Dickens and all of his characters, with hardly a pause for breath, is - well- simply breathtaking! Excellent throughout and highly recommended!
Brilliant DVD and experienced his live performance a few years ago in Sheffield. A masterpiece and certainly moreexciting / demanding piece than his current show 'Shakespeare' A true performer in a 19th century lecture/performance style.Quite brilliant Roy
It's a measure of Dickens' greatness that so many of our best writers and actors remain fascinated as much by the man as by his writing. The flamboyant showman side of his nature is a gift for dramatic presentations of his life. And Simon Callow's exuberant and flamboyant style is a perfect match for Dickens' own.
Written as a vehicle for Callow by Peter Ackroyd, Callow describes this one-man performance as a 'living biography'. Ackroyd, of course, has written a huge 'proper' biography of Dickens. Unfortunately, it is so tedious - oops! sorry - detailed that I gave up on it when Dickens had only reached about the age of 10 by page 180 or so - and that was the abridged version! However, it does mean he knows his stuff about The Great Man's life, and having to meet the requirements of a running time of roughly an hour and a half seems to have concentrated his mind wonderfully.
For Dickens' geeks like myself, there are no great revelations in this. It's a fairly standard run-through of Dickens' life - the blacking factory, the marriage, the death of the sister-in-law, the writing success, his separation from his wife, Ellen Ternan, his reading tours. If it were only a biography it would be worthwhile and interesting. What brings it to life is Callow's performance of excerpts from the various books in the first half and, in the second, the flavour he gives of what it might have been like to have attended one of Dickens' own performances.
There's a good mix of comedy and tragedy in the readings - from Mr Jingle of Pickwick Papers and Mr Crummles of Nicholas Nickleby, to poor little Oliver Twist, made marginally less simperingly nauseating than usual by Callow's performance of him as he leaves the workhouse, and a stunning performance of the Bill Sykes and Nancy murder scene at the end, modelled on Dickens own performance of it. Along the way we pop into Bleak House, get a quick blast of Uriah Heep, a nicely judged physical depiction of Sairey Gamp etc etc.
Filmed in front of a live audience at The Albery Theatre in London in 2002, the DVD itself is pretty basic. There are no subtitles and the only extra is a very brief snippet of Callow talking about the play. But the combination of Callow's brilliant performance and Dickens' immortal words makes this a wonderful night-in at the theatre. Remember to order interval drinks before the performance starts, then sit back and enjoy!
In four days, I will have the pleasure of attending Simon Callow's current one-man show, bringing another two Dickens' tales to the stage. "Simon Callow is a virtuoso storyteller who has already presented the life of Britain's greatest novelist in The Mystery of Charles Dickens in both the West End and on Broadway. Now he brings to life two one-man plays by Charles Dickens after a sell-out London run.
In an absorbing theatrical event he tells the stories of Dr Marigold, a travelling salesman who adopts a little deaf and dumb girl, and Mr Chops, a freak-show turn who wins the lottery and a place in society." "Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford advertising.
This rekindled my interest and I can again recommend this audiobook from the radio programme. Callow and Ackroyd are two ideal companions for Dickens' tales. I thoroughly recommend this for anyone with even a fleeting interest in his life. Although it is in some ways myopic, it is, nevertheless, a fascinating insight into his life.
What a great actor this man is! I loved this dvd - he becomes so animated at times that my grandson in a room at the far end of the house heard him shouting and came out to see if all was well! It was only Simon Callow giving his all to Dickens! Brings it all to life.
A wonderful performance. I wish I could have seen this live but am so grateful that it has been saved for posterity on this DVD. I used to love Simon Callow's Dickens at Christmas one man shows on the BBC and was annoyed when they were discontinued. This DVD is such a treat to have, so that I can watch his mesmerising portrayal of Dickens and so many of his characters when ever I want. The way he switches from one character to another without a blink of an eye is sheer acting genius.