Nickleby Poster

Reviewed by: Joyce Handbury on Wednesday 7 December 2012
Venue: The Srutt Centre, Belper
Type of Production: Play
Producer/Director: Larry Waller, assisted by Sara Mothershaw

First of all many congratulations to Larry Waller who adapted and directed ‘Nickleby - A Tale For Christmas’ which is based on the novel Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens. The play lasted for just over two hours - an impossible task one might think, but for me, it lost nothing in its adaptation in fact, it made it a much more meaningful and accessible experience than trying to read the book or sit through or view the usual lengthy play adaptations. This was achieved, in the main, by the clever use of several excellent narrators who kept the story moving along thus supporting the main characters and action. The performance was in a medium sized hall with no stage facilities so there was no set as such, but the various locations and even a large stage coach were delivered by the ingenious use of large ‘blocks’ which were so effectively handled and expertly manoeuvred by the cast on either their exits or entrances. There was a cast of over fifty adults as well as sixteen children and each and everyone of them was totally involved and immersed in their various roles resulting in some extremely convincing performances. However, I must make mention of some individual performances. Nicholas Nickleby was played to perfection by Tom Makinson. He has great stage presence and portrayed all the varying aspects and emotions of the character superbly. His interaction with other cast members, particularly Smike, was outstanding. Terry Stevenson was very impressive in both of his roles as Vincent Crummles and Newman Moggs and Paul Davies as Wackford Squeers was terrifying. Those poor children really did seem to suffer at his hands and when his wife, admirably played by Sheila Kay Sly, was dishing out the medicine to a line-up of boys, it was quite horrific, showing just how wretched it must have been for children in these circumstances. Nick Mothershaw was suitably pompous and unfeeling as Ralph Nickleby later movingly showing the more tormented side of Ralph and Joe Riley did full justice to the role of Smike with a heart wrenching performance. As I have already said the whole cast was outstanding and are all deserving of praise. There were so many funny, moving and poignant moments I cannot possibly mention them all. Many, many congratulations to the whole company on producing such a remarkable show and everyone involved in any way, costumes, lighting, sound, props, music, original artwork as well as the cast of adults and children and the production team, must be extremely proud of this brilliant achievement none more so than Larry Waller for his inspirational adaptation and for his exceptional direction. It was a truly wonderful and memorable evening!