Thursday 12 January 2012

What the dickens?

The recent Dickens season on the BBC has caused me a certain amount of unease. I have a distinct dislike of period costume dramas, particularly those based around Regency and Victorian times. In fact I will often go out of my way to avoid them. In many ways that’s a shame as no doubt some of them will be very well written. The trouble is that they make me want to vomit. The only exception to the rule is A Christmas Carol which I never tire of and which invariably leads to a modicum of tear-duct leakage. I’m sure that somewhere in this land some very good ‘alternate’ productions of his work are being performed, but I would so much prefer it if by default Dickens could be treated in a similar vein to Shakespeare. I know that there is a whole world of difference between the novels of Charles Dickens and the plays of William Shakespeare but I do feel that the approach could be equally as exciting by relying solely on the prose of Dickens and its dramatic interpretation. Does it really need to be reduced to lack-lustre entertainment gift wrapped in frilly dresses, starched collars and sideburns? I‘d like to see Dickens interpreted with some stripped down gritty realism.

Sadly much of the subject matter in the works of Dickens is still very relevant. Presenting his work cosseted in a cloak of mawkish sterility detracts from its power. Charlie boy highlighted the horrors of poverty which sadly are still all too real today; you would have thought that over the last 142 years* it would not have been beyond the capacity of the peoples of Great Britain and their successive governments to have eradicated it by now. But clearly to date it has beaten us. Poverty is very much alive and thriving. So far we have failed. When will we make poverty history? Until that day we are nothing!

“Dear mother it’s a bugger...”

*Dickens died in 1870

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