The Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Orlando, Fla., has taken on the mammoth task of staging the 6 1/2-hour version of Nicholas Nickleby (cut down slightly from the 8 1/2-hour version that ran in London and New York). Terry Teachout of the Wall Street Journal reviews it here.
This one will have its world premiere in Northampton, England, next month. It will star Oliver Dimsdale (whom you may have seen in various period TV dramas, including Downton Abbey) and Abigail McKern (who was in a TV adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby).
"Now, there are (if I can speak in hushed tones for a moment) those who do not like Dickens at all. There are some who look askance at the buffoonery and high spirits and wish for something more refined. 'If those people are ever refined it will be by fire' is Chesterton’s response, but he does acknowledge that Dickens poses some special problems for modern critics. There is something in his writing that is out of temper with our times, a sense that a critical apparatus which can seize upon Thackeray or Eliot with a firm grip will somehow slip and grasp emptiness when applied to Dickens. Chesterton noted this already a century ago, and ascribed it to the powerful simplicity of Dickens’ genius:
Dickens has greatly suffered with the critics precisely through this stunning simplicity in his best work. The critic is called upon to describe his sensations while enjoying Mantalini and Micawber, and he can no more describe them than he can describe a blow in the face. Thus Dickens, in this self-conscious, analytical and descriptive age, loses both ways. He is doubly unfitted for the best modern criticism. His bad work is below that criticism. His good work is above it."
of the highlights of my year was the Dickens on Screen festival at the TIFF
Bell Lightbox in Toronto. This particular event, organized to coincide with the
bicentenary, had several stops and was curated by Adrian Wootton, the chief executive
of Film London and an avid Dickensian
and film historian in his own right.
Nick Nickleby aired on the BBC in mid-November, basically unannounced and tucked away somewhere in the early afternoon. That's a real pity, because this modern adaptation of Charles Dickens' novel Nicholas Nickleby is a little gem which should be viewed by many more people!
I'm a little late with this news: The miniseries Nick Nickleby aired on BBC One earlier this month. (Thanks to Pete Orford for the tip.) The modernized version of Dickens's third novel, which ran in the afternoons, earned between 700,000 and 800,000 viewers per installment. I don't know yet whether it will be made available over here, but the show's website mentions an international distributor, so it might be! In the meantime, a few clips are available at the BBC site.