A Victorian odd couple
Victorian authors Charles Dickens and Lewis Carroll probably never met, but Daniel Rover Singer’s comedy A Perfect Likeness pretends they did, resulting in a witty and revealing conversation between two quirky and wildly different men.
The extroverted, egotistical, irreverent Dickens immediately grates on the nerves of the mannered, clerical, prickly young Lewis Carroll, whose real name was Charles Dodgson.
Dodgson struggles to capture a ‘perfect likeness’ of Dickens (photography in 1866 being a profoundly complicated process involving long exposure times and bathing glass plates in various chemical compounds) while Dickens craftily pries into Dodgson’s personal life to get a handle on one of the strangest men he has ever met.
This Victorian “Odd Couple” premiered in the USA in 2013. “So lovely and entertaining that you want it to be true,” said the Winston-Salem Journal.
What makes the play so popular is its detailed, deeply human portrayal of these two literary giants.
The playwright addresses Carroll’s controversial fascination with children and the urban myth of his recreational drug use, while taking Dickens to task for his secret affair with a young actress.
Provocative and hilarious, it’s proving to be hugely entertaining to general audiences – it’s not just a show for English majors.
You don’t have to know anything about these men or their works to enjoy A Perfect Likeness.
“I’ve loved both these guys my entire life,” says Daniel Rover Singer, who years ago founded the Reduced Shakespeare Company and co-created the renowned farce The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).
“When it occurred to me that Dickens and Carroll could have met, the play poured out of me. They both make great theatrical characters and it was a joy to concoct their repartee.
“At first you think they’re never going to get along and that Carroll will never get the photograph he wants… but as their encounter gets down to brass tacks, you get to see them connect in a deeply human way that’s incredibly satisfying.”
Director Nick Young, who trained as a director with the Royal Shakespeare Company, says: “What I loved about Daniel Rover Singer’s seductive and intriguing play was his bringing together two of our greatest Victorian authors and imagining what would their encounter have been like.
“Good theatre comes from the interaction of great characters that draw an audience into the action.
“Humane, witty, passionate – with a hint of sadness. Perfect! I could not wait to direct it.”
l Tickets for A Perfect Likeness are available from keytheatrepeterborough.ticketsolve.com/shows. Performances are September 8 (7.30pm) and September 9 (2pm).