The Life and Adventures Nicholas Nickleby, our largest ever dramatic production, had always promised to be one to remember and it delivered in spectacular style!
With a cast of more than 40 Senior School pupils, many of whom took on multiple parts, the ambitious scope of the adaptation was evident from the very first scenes. Noble Nicholas (Jack Sackett, U6GLA, who led from the front with immense panache) offered words of reassurance to his beloved sister, Kate (beautifully played by Abi Fisher, U6GRO) and shaken mother, Mrs Nickleby (a delightfully ditsy Anna Chadwick, L6BRD), but the audience couldn’t quite shake the feeling that things weren’t going to go their way…
Enter stage left, the looming figure of Ralph Nickleby, played with great stamina and style by Arvind Sahni (U6FOX), who was instantly recognisable as the kind of character who doesn’t deliver good news. In fact, it’s this encounter that appears to seal the fate of Nicholas, as he’s shipped off to a new position at Dotheboys Hall, a ‘school’ in Yorkshire run by the sadistic, one-eyed Wackford Squeers (William Medland, L6GRO ). William put in a barnstorming performance as the wonderfully wicked Squeers and was more than ably assisted in his erroneous endeavours by cackling wife Mrs Squeers (Olivia Polding, L6FOX).
From here on in, Nicholas’s adventure took on a myriad of twists and turns, which allowed the impressively talented cast to flex their acting muscles in the face of challenging Dickensian dialogue and rapid character changes.
A constant throughout all the turmoil were the Dotheboys boys, a rag-taggle group of orphans, waifs and strays who have lived under Squeers’s inhospitable roof for far too many years. They skilfully turned their hands to narration, scenery shifting and pretty much everything else throughout the production. Without a doubt, their eventual emancipation was well earned.
We were delighted to welcome alumnus Ron Pickup (OKS 1959) to the final performance, fresh from his role in the Oscar nominated Darkest Hour.
A fitting end to Dr McMahon’s 18 years as a leading light of the King’s English Department, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby showcased Dr McMahon does best – inspiring young performers to develop the talent and confidence to tackle, at times, overwhelming challenges and help them to deliver outstanding results.
Huge congratulations to everyone involved – an absolute triumph!