Charles Dickens’ works adapt beautifully into one-man/-woman shows. It’s all pure narrative and comes alive perfectly in the hands of a great storyteller. There’s really no need for any involved theatrics. During his life, Dickens read his works to large public gatherings, so his writing naturally sounds excellent when spoken aloud. Ian Pearce’s one-man adaptation of Dickens’ short story Doctor Marigold’s Prescriptions makes for a reassuringly warm show that will be a treat for avid Dickens fans. Yes, the story is sentimental, but if you know what you’re in for this makes for a fine staged reading.
It’s a pleasant if mawkish tale, but Pearce manages to carry it all off in style with only occasional stumbles.
Pearce tells the story in the persona of the protagonist: Doctor Marigold, so named because his mother was so grateful to the travelling doctor who delivered him. Doctor is no doctor, however. He’s a cheap jack, or traveling salesman. He takes a wife and has a lovely child, but this being Dickens all lovely children have the expected lifespan of a hamster in a microwave. Don’t worry though — after the sad tears come the tears of joy (Dickens was extremely into those tears of joy) for Doctor gains an adopted daughter and a second family. It’s a pleasant if mawkish tale, but Pearce manages to carry it all off in style with only occasional stumbles. He’s got an engaging face and lively eyes and looks resplendent in his Victorian cheap-jack outfit.
This isn’t a show to race out and see unless you are familiar with Dickens—it’s grindingly maudlin and a little slow. Still, the leisurely pace of Doctor Marigold’s tale is calming and friendly — I’d prescribe a small dose.