November 2011 – Pickwick Papers


Reviewed by Peter Steptoe

The Parlour Players under the direction of Chris Hearn on their newly constructed ‘Thrust Stage’ brought Charles Dickens comic masterpiece to vibrant life. This adaption by Lynn Brittney was faithful to the last detail but made for a rather lengthy evening.

Tony Dent as a rubicund Pickwick managed the transition from pompous to lovable as the play progressed and all the characters we know so well were brought to life. The rascally Mr Jingle (Simon Vines) with his seduction of the acid tongued Rachael Wardle (Felicity Nicholson)’. The funny duel scene between the gallant but mortally afraid Mr Winkle (Rick Roberts) and Dr. Slammer (David Russell). The card playing sequence with Rachael’s Mother, the very deaf Old Mrs. Wardle (Jane Swale) but who managed to hear whenever her interests appeared threatened. Mr Tupman (Chris Bishop) as the unsuccessful lover of most of the ladies at Dingley Dell the home of Mr Wardle (Rodney Newman) and the poet whose verse we never heard had the unlikely name of Snodgrass (Roger Dale).

Michael Cooke as Sam Weller was the astute cockney valet to Pickwick and we listened with him to his Father’s exhortations on the vicissitudes of married life made amusingly but at considerable length by Jim Gibbons.

The court scene where Pickwick was being sued for breach of promise by his landlady Mrs Bardell (Ros Tunbridge) was good fun and Chester Stern made full use of his expertise at cross examination as Serjeant Buzfuz.