The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby

by David Edgar

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 224

When it appeared on the London stage in 1980, David Edgar's Nicholas Nickleby became the longest play ever produced, and when it moved to a lavish production in New York for the eight-and-one-half hour theater endurance test (viewed either in one marathon sitting or in two long evenings), it boasted the most expensive theatre ticket price ever set, at $100 each. Edgar found himself identifying more and more with the Dickensian spirit of being ‘‘generously angry’’ as he worked on Nicholas Nickleby. This is a play that takes the social consciousness of the original Dickens novel to new dimensions, where audiences can be reminded of the need for social reform, as well as uplifted by the play's message. Edgar sees three avenues of success in his production: ''First, it looks at adaptations in a new way. It says that a group of people with a strong view about the world can take a work of art and frame it and transform it in a way that makes the adaptation one not of the original work of art but about the original work of art. Point two ... it's accessible; it's not obscure.... [And] the third point is that it was ... on the side of the underdog for the entirety of its not inconsiderable length." The play combines Dickensian social realism with modern theatrical spectacle and genuine heart.

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