Oscar Wilde’s view of Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop was that only someone with a heart of stone could read about the death of Little Nell without laughing.
In bringing the story into the present day, Daniel Jameson’s adaptation lifts the cloying burden of sentimentality to reveal the unnerving statement of social deprivation.
Grandpa loses his record shop because his gambling throws him into the clutches of a vicious loan-shark. To escape him, the old man and his granddaughter, Nell, set off on a journey across Britain.
Under Nikki Sved’s assured direction, a skilled cast of seven create vivid characters with disciplined economy. Derek Flood relishes the demonic nastiness of Quilp. Sarah Kameela Impey keeps Nell emotionally grounded throughout. Malcolm Hamilton is vocally and physically impressive as the rapper.
Trina Bramman’s atmospheric set and projections frame a production which is contemporary in its impact while keeping faith with Dickens. Until Saturday.