4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Fabulous dramatisation of one of Dickens' less known works,
This review is from: The Old Curiosity Shop (Radio Collection) (Audio Cassette)
The book may be a bit of a mess, written on the cuff as Dickens tried to salvage a misguided attempt at a magazine, but it's richly full of his brilliance, and this dramatisation is sensationally good.
Some outstanding scenes linger long after one's first listen, such as when Little Nell's father grapples with his gambling addiction (and how depressingly relevant that is these days) and when Dick Swivveler's discusses with an inanimate Punch doll whether or not he should start acting responsibly.
I bought the book afterwards to read them in full, but I discovered they weren't actually in the book: they are just part of the adaptation, but an adaptation that captures Dickens so well it weaves the created scenes seamlessly in with the Dickens own narrative and often these scenes are highlights of their own.
It's far from a perfect novel. Quilp is devilishly evil but of limited motivation, the narrator's role is unclear, as is the age of Little Nell, and there are several ludicrously contrived plot devices. But then, Dickens was writing it on the hoof.
Apparently, the novel's of interest to scholars for Dickens' attitude to pop culture (Punch and Judy shows, mime shows etc.): for me, it was a wonderful way to pass some long car journeys. At times, it got me so wound up as I listened that I found myself literally pleading aloud with Nell's father not to gamble the money... But Dickens is so brilliant that he captivates you and this production, uniformly well acted, delivers all that brilliance.