Sikes & Nancy - Theatre ☆☆☆☆4

Showing from - Tuesday, November 4, 2014 through till Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Guildhall Theatre - Derby

Dan Webber | Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Sikes & Nancy reviewed by Dan Webber on Tuesday, November 4, 2014 for Downstage CentreJames Swanton, star of one-man show 'Sikes & Nancy'

A dark November night at Derby’s Guildhall Theatre was the perfect setting for ‘Sikes and Nancy’, a dramatised reading of Dickens’ most famous pairing.

Often performed by Dickens himself to hundreds of people, this Victorian Melodrama is known for raising the heart-rate of those who perform it and chilling its audiences to the bone.
James Swanton sat, menacing the stage in a long black coat, still and sombre
With the curtain up at 7.30pm and the house not open till 7.25pm the atmosphere was tangible as we entered the auditorium, and we were not disappointed. James Swanton sat, menacing the stage in a long black coat, still and sombre as drips of unseen water fell, setting the tone completely. As the lights dimmed this stoic gothic being transformed before our very eyes.

James Swanton is a chameleon, a mesmerising grotesque elastic man able to throw his voice and frame into all sorts of twisted and dark characters from the hunched and lizard-like Fagin to the bold and overbearing Bill Sykes.

from rooftop to rooftop

In seventy minutes he portrayed a half-a-dozen characters, with nothing but himself and a few chairs on the stage. He leapt from rooftop to rooftop, through city and country and the audience were with him every step of the way.

This is a fine example of the power of theatre. Six chairs, four lights and an incredible performer was all it took for Dickens’ characters to come alive and Swanton’s ability at switching from role to role was a master class in performance, playing both male and female characters with conviction and belief.I can honestly say none of us had ever seen anything like it
The final twenty minutes of the piece were spellbinding and the audience were left in a state of shock as the curtain fell, hearts racing, breath held. I can honestly say none of us had ever seen anything like it and I could have a happily watched the whole thing again.

It is a testament to James Swanton that after the performance, at the Q and A which followed the stretched and contorted performer was replaced by a shy and humble man, only confirming what a great acting ability he has.

Dickens couldn’t have done it better himself.


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Production Information


Theatre: The Guildhall Theatre

Showing Until: Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Production Company: The Ladida Group, in association with The Production Exchange

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