#249. Especially at this time of year, Charles Dickens is remembered fondly. He penned the holiday classic, “A Christmas Carol.” He immortalized Scrooge as a symbol of redemption and Christmas spirit. He made a crippled boy’s sentimental ‘God bless us, every one.” the toast for the ages. People decorate their houses with their ceramic Dickens Village collections in homage. A *Dickens Christmas* is a well-known descriptor. Well, the ghost of Christmas past is going to make you rethink the literary genius. This is Dickens unwrapped…
For a limited engagement, Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents DICKENS’ WOMEN. 2012 has been an international celebration of the bicentennial of Charles Dickens’ birth. Award-winning actress Miriam Margolyes ends her ten month one-woman show in Chicago. Margolyes, along with her director Sonia Fraser, has devised and written an analysis of Dickens’ female literary characters as compared to the real women in his life. The dissection is both riveting and riotous. The prolific author, who wrote so compassionately about the poor and the crippled, was a bit misogynistic. Although he loved the seventeen year olds, the woman delivering his sixteen children was treated like crap. Margolyes handles the dark expose with respectful moxie. She introduces snippets from Dickens‘ life along with excerpts from the women of his masterpieces, “David Copperfield,” “Great Expectations,” and “Martin Chuzzlewit.” The tribute captivates as DICKENS‘ WOMEN finally speak up!
You don’t have to be well-versed in Dickens’ books to enjoy this show. If you are, it probably heightens the appreciation for the clever literary lesson. I’ve read the biggies or seen the movie/play adaptations. Still, my lack of education didn’t change my thorough delight in this show. DICKENS’ WOMEN has two key ingredients: Dickens and Margolyes. Even with the unflattering depiction of his personal life, Dickens still comes off as a brilliant and timeless writer. Listening to passages from his books, I marveled at Dickens ability to craft words together. His vivid descriptions are amazing. This brief tutorial makes me want to re-visit every one of his books.
And instead of me reading Dickens, I would contract Miriam Margolyes to read to me. The vocally talented Margolyes is transfixing. She goes from character to character with animated facial expressions and distinct diction. Margolyes is the charming dinner guest that you never want to leave. Her storytelling engages with intimate knowledge and enthusiastic delivery. In a hilarious reenactment of the exchange between Mr. Bumble and Mrs. Corney, Margolyes perfectly plays both parts. She meets the thunderous applause with eye-twinkling modesty, ‘I love doing that one!’ Throughout the show, Margolyes will perform 23 of Dickens best-loved characters plus give a haunting voice to Katherine Dickens. An unforgettable evening!
Open this present before Christmas! DICKENS’ WOMEN only has 5 more performances. Here’s my biggest tip for long lasting enjoyment: Take $20 in cash! Margolyes is selling her book, “Dickens Women” and she only accepts cash. As she tells the audience, you could buy it cheaper on Amazon but then you wouldn’t get to meet her. Don’t miss that opportunity either!
Running Time: Two hours and thirty minutes includes an intermission
Production photo by Prudence Upton
At Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand
Devised and written by Miriam Margolyes and Sonia Fraser
Performed by Miriam Margolyes
Directed by Sonia Fraser
December 19th, 20th, 21st at 7:30pm
December 22nd at 3pm and 8pm
Buy Tickets at http://www.chicagoshakes.com