Fringe Reviews, Day 8

Today I saw the first of three plays I shall be seeing today: Dickens of the Mounted.

Francis "Frank" Dickens, son of the famed novelist, spent the final 12 years of his life as a North-West Mounted Police officer. This play is adapted from Eric Nicol's 1989 novel, purportedly (but not really) based on Dicken's letters, of which only a small number have been found.

The performance, by Kristian Bruun, is very strong (and physically accurate, according to this photograph) and well tempered. The use of set pieces is notable.

As some sort of parable, as it politically motivated authors intended, it perhaps falls short. Near the end of the play Frank remarks how both America and his father have an urge to right wrongs (Eric Nicol himself is a well-known anti-American nationalist), but in the final analysis Dickens himself was wrong. (He had never really lived in the idyllic peasant villages he so admired in his work, which at least Tolkien had -- and indeed, his son Frank does in this play). Well, again, a romantic view of the west is painted in this play, and while parts of it are probably quite accurate, huge amounts are quite clearly bunk.

The biggest problem I had in this, the final (Edmonton) showing of the play, is that the crowd laughed far too often at things that weren't particularly funny. Other than that though, it really was a good and entertaining show. Interesting narratives, compelling tale, and well acted. Just don't try to draw any historic or moral lessons from it, all right?