Cracking Copperfield

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens at Colchester Mercury until November 15.This is the Dickens of a good show. Adapted and directed by Giles Havergal, it rattles along like a six-horse post-chaise with an impatient driver flicking the whip.

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens at Colchester Mercury until November 15.

THIS is the Dickens of a good show. Adapted and directed by Giles Havergal, it rattles along like a six-horse post-chaise with an impatient driver flicking the whip. The novel's cast of many characters he has whittled down to the ones who really matter, those who point up David's 'undisciplined heart.'

Gone are people like Mr Barkis, the coachman with a surprising fortune, Betsey Trotwood's slightly deranged companion Mr Dick, Copperfield's good friend Tommy Traddles and a lot more but Havergal's story cuts straight to the chase of David's life of misjudgements and it works like a dream.

He uses the surprisingly effective conceit of having two David's, the boy and the mature man, on stage together all the time, the older one narrating the story and filling in the gaps. But he's much more than that.


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He's almost like a loving brother looking back at where he's been, always close and caring desperately about what is happening to the boy, sharing the good times and the bad.

One of the real delight's of this production is that in spite of the speed with which the tale is told, the vital aspects are all there, wrapped in carefully chosen slices of Dickens' words and very cleverly lifted with dollops of humour, here and there very close to farce.

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There are strong performances right through the cast and Adam Wiltshire's all-purpose sparse set works a treat, even for the shipwreck, helped by Zerlina Hughes' splendid lighting.

David Henshall

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