Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Sikes And Nancy

Sikes and Nancy 
Middlesbrough Theatre 
One of the many things I enjoy about my trips to the Theatre is experiencing the wonderful diversity of creative performances. From the massive casts of West End favourites such as Les Miserables to the incredible power of a one-man show, there's terrific variety to be found in the world of live Theatre - and long may it continue.

Sikes and Nancy featured a fabulous performance by James Swanton.

He was already a brooding presence on the stage as we took our seats. Sitting on a chair (one of six - the only props), lost in thought against a soundscape of dripping water, the stance could have represented any number of things. Was it Sikes, contemplating the deadly deed to come? Or Fagin, languishing in his cell?

As the lights dimmed, the characters came alive before our eyes. Fagin - slippery, scheming, revolting. Sikes - angry, violent, dangerous. The voices, the body language, the small passages of narration, delivered Man in Black style and always, the invasive drip-drip-drip of water unseen. As the play drew to its ghastly and inevitable conclusion, do the tension grew. We all knew what was coming but were powerless to prevent the brutal slaughter of Nancy.

None of the characters comes out of the evening looking good. Brutal times - brutal people.

It is easy to see how such a reenactment would exhaust the performer, both physically and emotionally, as even Dickens himself found to his cost.

Sikes and Nancy lasts just over one hour and there is no interval. It brings ho!e once again the sheer magnificence of Dickens's writing and overturns the relatively feel food factor of the celebrated musical versions. The turn out at Middlesbrough was lower than one might expect. For the many who stayed away, this was a missed opportunity. When the play tours again, I urge you to take your seats - if you dare.
For further details and tour dates, head for James's official website.

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