Pip Utton is Charles Dickens

After falling down dead, Charles Dickens - like a phoenix with an unusually large beard - rises miraculously from the ashes to tell us the story of the last decade of his life. Pip Utton, the ‘doyen of the Fringe one man show', who gained acclaim sporting even more sinister facial hair in the award-winning Adolf, returns to the Fringe with something altogether less controversial. Impeccably acted, Utton’s Dickens effortlessly commands the stage from the outset, punctuating his personal reflections with readings from his own work, as performed on the lecture tours he gave during his final 12 years. These range from the instantly recognisable Bob Cratchett to the somewhat more obscure Mrs Gamp from Martin Chuzzlewit, with Utton bringing every character to life with aplomb. Unfortunately though, the life of Charles Dickens – or, at least, what we are told of it – is simply not engaging enough to make for a memorable show. Apart from the details of his domestic arrangements and the strength of his affection for his mistress, Nell, we receive a disappointingly limited portrait of his existence, with reflections on his difficult childhood cut woefully short. There is none of the emotional complexity of Utton’s previous writing, with few real insights into the author’s mind other than the revelation of his fixation with material gain. Though the show is undoubtedly well-performed, the readings are the only points at which we are truly moved, and the absence of any connecting thread running through the chosen excerpts makes it feels slightly disjointed overall. What’s more, written from the perspective of the modern day - complete with anachronistic expressions and a reference to DVDs - the script doesn’t sit comfortably with the identity of the protagonist, and in consequence, the concept of the show doesn’t really work.Go and see it for the joy of hearing a wonderful actor take on Dickens’ captivating prose, but don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t live up to expectations as a whole.

The Blurb

'Dickens is brought to life' (FringeReview.co.uk). 'Pip gets under the skin of Dickens to create a real man out of the myth' (EdinburghGuide.com). 'In the hands of a master at work' (ThreeWeeks). www.remarkable-arts.com