For those of us that were privileged enough to see Miriam Margolyes perform "Dickens's Women" during her limited engagement at the Herb Strauss Theater, the evening turned out to be, a rare treat indeed. Big Arts scored a real coup by securing this remarkable, BAFTA Best Supporting Actress Award winner; making special detour to Sanibel, during her whirlwind, world tour, celebrating the bicentennial of Dickens' birth.
This multi-talented actress not only portrayed 20 of Dickens' women, she also portrayed 3 of Dickens' readily recognizable male characters: Pip, Mr. Bumble, and Towlinson. Another telling component of this one woman show is the facile way this consummate actress can turn on a dime, going from character to character with a simple raise of an eyebrow, a shrug of a shoulder, a squint of an eye, the toss of a curl and voila! We easily recognize who each character is, their follies their foibles and what they are feeling and expressing at the moment.
What is even more interesting is that this one woman show is also about revealing Dickens himself through his writings. Margolyes "offers a different and perhaps more critical perspective on the man himself. And says in her words that she has chosen to portray a portrait of Dickens which is, "Much crueler than people expect, so I hope the show will shock the audience and remove them from the comfort zone people usually expect from Dickens".
In Miriam Margolyes deft hands Dickens as well as his characters all come to life in a most entertaining bit of theater. Margolyes' range in her portrayals is boundless, from a British Music Hall clown one moment (think Beatrice Lillie, Margaret Rutherford or Angela Lansbury) having a high old time kicking up her heels in an outrageous camp, and then poignantly reducing us to heart tugging sighs and melting melancholy the next. That my friends, is acting of the highest order. Bravo and kudos to you Miriam Margolyes for a breathtaking couple of hours at live theater. And thank you Big Arts for presenting to all of us Miriam Margolyes in "Dickens Women"
Now while I have your attention don't whatever you do not miss the next offering at the Herb Strauss Theater, when "Plaid Tidings" hits the boards. This merry, musical romp will fill your holiday stocking with a "plaiderized" version of holiday gems like "Let It Snow", "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year", "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas", plus unusual little ditties like the Hawaiian version of that famous carol "Mele Kalikimaka", the slightly goofy "A Mixmaster Christmas" plus the almost famous "Twuz The Nite B4 Xmas". Can you stand it? So off you go hitch up your reindeer, or hop on your bike, drive your car or better yet pick up your phone and dial the Box Office at 472-6862 0r Big Arts at 395-0900 and reserve your seat. Performances are at 8 p.m. from Dec. 17 to Dec. 22 and Dec. 23 to Dec. 29 with a matinee at 4 p.m. Dec. 23 and Dec. 30. Remind 'em when you phone that Marsha sent you!