...AN ONLINE PORTFOLIO Miriam Margolyes

Dickens’ Women HERALD SUN ~ 10th October 2007

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Where: Playhouse, Thursday. Also Frankston Arts Centre, October 9-10

CHARLES Dickens wrote two kinds of women: the innocent and the grotesque. Bland young angels and creepy, painted, psychotic, blowzy harridans.
The innocents, pretty much, are indistinguishable. They're all 17 and utterly nice. Dream girls. An old man's fantasy. The grotesques, by contrast, are unique. Each has a pathology all of her own.
There's no prize for guessing which are more fun to play, especially for a character actor of the calibre of Miriam Margolyes. They're also much more fun to watch.
So, first and foremost, Dickens's Women is a freak show. It strings together scenes from various novels: monologues, little dramas and a couple of self-contained readings from a lectern, a replica of Dickens' own . . . which he designed himself.
As much as Margolyes loves Dickens' novels, she's the first to admit his ingenues are a little bit ``icky'' and that the man was a misogynist pig.
He once likened his wife to a donkey before cruelly dumping her for a woman almost 30 years younger than himself.
In the course of two hours, Margolyes neatly sketches his life story and places him on the analyst's couch. Tales from his life are then illustrated by the scenes that those events inspired in his novels.
It's all immense fun, even if you're unfamiliar with the novels. There's an earthiness and a cleverness that feeds into Margolyes's acting.
She can pull faces and pull off dozens of voices, but there's so much more to her and her work. There's a creative spirit, a restlessness which helps keep a well-drilled work fresh and utterly live.
How lucky we are this extraordinary actor now calls Australia home.


Posted : 10th October 2007

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