Dr Marigold and Mr Chops (review)

Simon Callow performing Dr Marigold and Mr Chops.

Simon Callow performing Dr Marigold and Mr Chops.

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IT takes a larger than life personality to do justice to the outlandish characters created by Charles Dickens and no-one could be better qualified than the talented Simon Callow.

His one-man show, Dr Marigold and Mr Chops, at The Waterside this week, is a master-class in top drawer acting from one of Britain’s foremost thespians.

The production is quality from start to finish but it sadly suffers from being in such a large auditorium. This cried out for intimacy and atmosphere from an old-style theatre which, splendid as the Waterside is, it clearly isn’t.

In the first act Callow plays a carni showman who acts as narrator to tell a story very much of our times. A dwarf, who lives his life on the fringes of society as an exhibit in a freak show, wins big on a lottery.

He believes that the £12,500 win will transform his life and allow him to be accepted by his betters. Sadly it’s a cautionary tale with no happy ending.

In act two Callow bounds on stage with the vigour of a young pup to recount his life as a “cheapjack,” a man who could sell coals to Newcastle given half the chance.

His life is pure Dickensian melodrama and our actor fills every moment with poignancy and passion in equal measures. It’s a remarkable and absorbing performance.

Dickens observed the Victorian underclasses with the eye of an artist and no-one could be better equipped than Callow in bringing his colourful canvasses to the modern stage.

Dr Marigold and Mr Chops runs until Saturday. For tickets call the box office 0844 871 7607 or go online www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury

ANNE COX