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Re-Viewing the Situation: Staging Neo-Victorian Criminality and Villainy after Oliver!

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Publication details

JournalNeo-Victorian Studies
DatePublished - Feb 2009
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)121-147
Original languageEnglish


This essay addresses the difficulties that modern theatrical adaptors of Dickens’ Oliver Twist (1837-8) have had in following Lionel Bart’s musical Oliver! (1960). In particular, it compares the strategies employed by two recent stage productions which seek to recontextualise the figures of Fagin, Sikes and Nancy: The Mystery of Charles Dickens by Peter Ackroyd, and Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist by Neil Bartlett. In theorising melodrama as having particular requirements for its plot and characters, the essay examines the ways in which the relationship between villainy and criminality is reconfigured in Bart’s musical. The essay also compares the ways in which villainy and criminality have
been represented on stage in popular adaptations of two other Victorian novels, Nicholas Nickleby and The Woman in White.

    Research areas

  • adaptation, Neil Bartlett, Simon Callow, crime, criminality, Charles Dickens,

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