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Posts Tagged ‘Sketches by Boz’

What a great idea to create a modern stage version of Charles Dickens’ Sketches by Boz, his short pieces for newspapers which preceded his first novel. Another great idea to get star playwright James Graham to nurture eight young writers, each to contribute a story to accompany his four, and to stage it at Wilton’s, a very Dickensian venue which was around when the original sketches appeared.

The twelve tales cover a diverse range of subjects, from a troubled relationship played out during a Mayoral election, through the life of a Scottish drag queen to a sophisticated crime and the sighting of a rare songbird. Instead of telling them sequentially, though, they are interwoven, and this is where it went wrong for me, as it made for a fragmentary evening of uneven writing.

The five performers do very well, switching characters and stories with the turn of a head or the donning of a hat, and Thomas Hescott’s staging, on a raised platform which dealt well with Wilton’s usually challenging sight-lines, using minimal props but excellent projections by Daniel Denton, served them well enough. In the end though, the constant switching between stories inhibited your enjoyment of them and eventually became irritating.

An ambitious and clever idea that sadly didn’t live up to its promise.

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