Nicholas Nickleby – a play adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel, by the same name. This was a bit of an epic – longer than the other Dickens’ scripts I’ve written to date. Blame the characters – they just wouldn’t stop talking!
Good to have a relatively happy ending in spite of wicked uncle’s best attempts. A tale of good prevailing over evil mixed in with sadness but plenty of hilarity – latter provided somewhat unwittingly by Nicholas’s own mother.
(As ‘Uncle Ralph’ is such a villain through and through, and so many of the other characters seemed to fit into ‘panto mode’ I couldn’t resist but write another adaptation – based on this one, but tweaked to make it into a pantomime – around 90 minutes. This is available as a separate purchase).
Cast of 30. Duration around an hour (15 scenes) – this does not include playlist (optional but great! I think these ‘musical introductions to each scene’ would work really well – especially given current constraints on singing).
Scene I London
Narrator: Welcome to the world of the Nicklebys! We join them on a less than happy occasion. A family reunion! (Pauses) Now that might sound like a contradiction – but it does rather depend on your family, right? We all know some families get on like a house on fire while others … well, let’s just say, what might once have been a fire has long since burnt out, leaving cold charred remains. But enough of this. Let’s meet the family in question and then you’ll see what I mean – ooh I can feel a distinct drop in temperature even as they approach!
(Enter Nicholas Nickleby, Kate Nickleby, Mrs. Nickleby and Ralph Nickleby)
Narrator: Aha! So, there you all are!
(To Mrs. Nickleby) So sorry to hear about your loss. I never met your husband but
Ralph: (Interrupting) Narrowly missing a trip to the debtors’ prison!
Nicholas: (Shocked) Sir! I think that is hardly a comment worthy of this occasion.
Kate: We are all in the deepest mourning, sir!
Narrator: Yes, I think we could show a tiny bit more sensitivity to the widow. I hardly think now is a time to be talking about
Ralph: (Interrupting) His debts! Really? You think not? And why else do you think I have the pleasure of meeting up with this family?
Narrator: (Exclaiming) Sir! You cannot be suggesting
Ralph: (Interrupting) Not suggesting! Telling! Telling it as it is, am I not right, ma’am?
Mrs. Nickleby: (Spluttering) Oh dear, oh dear! This really does put me in a most awkward position!
Kate: Oh mother, dear! Don’t go distressing yourself further, at this time!
Nicholas: No. Calm yourself, mother. This can wait!
Ralph: Oh, it can, can it? And when, pray, would you like us to meet up again, for our next happy family reunion?
Nicholas: I’m not sure I like your tone, sir.
Kate: (Apologetically) No offense, sir. But we were expecting a little sympathy?
Ralph: Oh, you were, were you? So. Let me get this straight. You have come all the way from Devonshire … to what? Listen to my condolences?
Nicholas: (Coldly) I believe you know that not to be the case, sir. And, if I’m not mistaken, you seem to be actually taking pleasure in our discomfort.
Mrs. Nickleby: (Exclaiming) Nicholas! That is your father’s brother you are speaking to!
Ralph: My recently deceased brother, to be precise. And slightly out of pocket, correct?
Kate: I’m sure we don’t need reminding of that again, sir.
Ralph: Oh really? So, what else brings you here?
Nicholas: If you will insist on blunt speaking, sir, I’ll come straight to the point. Yes, we are in a bad way, financially. And any help you might think fit to give your brother’s now destitute family, would be much appreciated.
Ralph: Aha! And there we have it! You are here for money! My money!
Kate: Oh, we are perfectly prepared to work for anything we receive.
Ralph: Is that right? Well, in that case I’ll see what I can do.
Mrs. Nickleby: Oh, we really would be most grateful, sir!
Kate: I will work my very hardest, of that you can be sure!
Ralph: (Sarcastically) Oh, wonderful! And what abundance of skills can you offer a perspective employer?
Kate: I beg your pardon, sir?
Ralph: Well, it’s a tough market out there, looking for employment. Though of course, you’d know that, wouldn’t you? Tell me. What experience can you offer?
Kate: (Hesitantly) Well, sir, I’m sure I’d be a quick learner
Ralph: (Triumphantly) I’ll take that as a no, then! That’s the shame of having such a cossetted upbringing. Totally out of touch with real life.
Nicholas: We will take anything you can offer, sir.
Ralph: (Sarcastically) Oh, that’s very good of you!
Nicholas: (Muttering) Heaven forbid that we accept any charity from you!