7.8/10
39
2 user 1 critic

The Mystery of Charles Dickens (2000)

Simon Callow's one-man show about Charles Dickens.

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Simon Callow's one-man show about Charles Dickens.

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based on play | See All (1) »

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Biography | Drama

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2000 (UK)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Simon Callow also played the role of Charles Dickens in two episodes of Doctor Who, in 2005 and again in 2011. See more »

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The Plot Dickens
13 February 2007 | by (Virginia Beach) – See all my reviews

Its a novel idea at least: have an actor play a writer, the characters that writer writes and a narrator whose job is to tie the two together by commenting on biographical details.

And he is a good actor in the sense that he knows how to inhabit a stage, how to energetically anticipate a phrase, how to pause.

It is interesting at the beginning, especially when we recall the fourth stance we have from this man, an introduction from him as an actor.

I found myself engaged, but much of the reason was the machinery in my own head. I'm interested in how narrative is assembled; what the creative process is in the artist and whether that applies to how the thing is conveyed to us. Dickens is interesting in how he works. He just creates characters and then lets them bump up against each other. Characters first, story second, world third, fate finally. The way the world actually works emerges from the foibles of the characters. Seeing this recognized and elaborated is something of a joy.

But the real value of this is how the transitions are managed. Its just one man on a stage with mundane video cameras simply capturing. So the actual of how he shifts is amplified in comparison, a sort of conservation of attention. The writing is designed in such a way that most transitions are unexpected when the occur. We are jarred as he shifts among narrator, writer and character. Its a hard shift.

But shortly after, there are sufficient cues to make the shift seem logical and smooth after all. Its sort of a retrospective knitting together.

Interesting.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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