The Old Curiosity Shop – a Reader’s Theatre Adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Novel. A cast of 6, duration around 20 minutes
Narrator: Good morning!
Grandfather: And a very good morning to you! Welcome to the Old Curiosity Shop!
Tell me, what priceless items of curiosity can I interest you in, today, sir?
Quilp: (Sneering) Priceless? I’d say just about anything you have to say is priceless!
Nell: What a vindictive, cruel man you are, Mr. Quilp!
Kit: In such stark contrast to you, dear Nell!
Quilp: Ooh, I’m beginning to feel nauseous, already!
Dick: What is it about pure goodness that you find so hard to stomach, Quilp?
Quilp: Just that! Pure goodness – ugh! Enough to make anyone feel nauseous!
Grandfather: To you, maybe, Quilp! But then, thankfully, most of the rest of mankind don’t think and feel like you do.
Quilp: You know, for once, I am going to have to agree with you. I am in a league of my own (pauses) and proud of it!
Nell: How can you be proud of (pauses)
Quilp: (Interrupting) Let me help you! Evil or just plain badness, will they do?
Swiveller: We all know full well the depths of your depravity!
Quilp: (Gleefully) Ooh! I like it! Do go on!
This adaptation of Dickens’ novel was written for a small cast suitable for Reader’s Theater or guided reading and is intended as an introduction, facilitating access to a wonderful novel which, time allowing, should be read in its entirety. A synopsis is provided, which gives a sufficient understanding of the plot in order to enjoy their assigned characters.
The script has been given a different ending –happier and more optimistic than that of the original novel. This twist was done in order to give certain a second chance – even if their redemption is only partial and possibly temporary – it does, after all, take time to change from bad to good! It seemed only fair that, if Dick Swiveller was given this chance at redemption, so too should Quilp. But maybe that’s for others to decide. The writer prefers a happy ending, which is rather more typical of Dickens’ other works, and feels there is a lot to be said for giving everyone a second chance.
These are also available in Readers Theater format.