The Crown

The Crown
Alex as the Duke of Windsor

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Our Mutual Friend" Review

The Independent has a review of the new Dickens serial, written by Jane Thynne:

"If there's one realm in which television is supposedly pre-eminent, it's costume drama, and of all costume dramas, it's Dickens. So how could Dickens on radio, without bonnets and lamplight and all the glories of the BBC prop department possibly compete? The answer is magnificently. Woman's Hour's adaptation of Our Mutual Friend is like Christmas come early. Its timely theme is money and its power to corrupt. Old Harmon, a misanthropic miser who made his money from London's rubbish tips, has left a fortune to his estranged son, on condition that he marries a woman he has never met, Bella Wilfer. Yet at the start of the story a body pulled from the Thames is identified as that of the Harmon heir.

No one was more alert than Dickens to the importance of vivid dramatisation. In Our Mutual Friend, Sloppy is commended when reading out the paper because "he do the Police in different voices" whereas Silas Wegg reads "in a dry, unflinching way". Assisted by fabulously atmospheric music from Roger Goula, Jeremy Mortimer's production luxuriates in Dickens's language and the actors, including Pauline Quirke as Mrs Boffin, Alex Jennings as Dickens and Daisy Haggard as Bella, plainly relish their scripts. Our Mutual Friend was Dickens's last finished work and when it came out contemporary critics complained about the complexity of the plot, but judging by the first three of 20 episodes, Mike Walker's adaptation has overcome this problem. Even if you can't make a date with Woman's Hour, it's well worth catching the 7.45pm repeat."

The original review

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