Sikes & Nancy is a play adapted and performed by James Swanton based on the legendary readings Dickens himself used to give. Swanton, dressed entirely in black, enacts the compellingly and terrible story of Dickens’ most famous murder.
His tour-de-force performance of this masterpiece of Gothic melodrama sees him transform seamlessly from the revolting Fagin to the unfortunate Nancy; from the righteous Brownlow to the ferocious and terrifying Sikes. This bravura storytelling is exciting, dark, physical and brutish.
Charles Dickens adapted Sikes & Nancy from the grislier material in Oliver Twist. These notorious readings shocked audiences into silence; women would scream and faint. ‘I shall tear myself to pieces,’ Dickens vowed before one performance. In fact, it is now thought that the strain of the readings hastened Dickens’ early death.
'James Swanton is a fearless actor who in Sikes & Nancy pushes the art of physical expression into fantastical areas of theatre that are far too little explored.' Simon Callow