PERFORMING an encore Australian tour of her incredibly successful one-woman show Dickens' Women is the icing on the cake for BAFTA award-winning actress Miriam Margolyes.
The delightfully entertaining British star first developed the Dickens' expose with director Sonia Fraser in 1989 for the Edinburgh Fringe and has since revelled in touring the production the world over with her 23 Dickens' characters telling the story of his life.
“Most of the characters that we chose do bare a relationship to someone in his life and relate to a real person which is sort of the spine of the show or coat hanger that we've hung it on,” Margolyes explained.
“It's a good story about a man who had a secret that nobody knew about until a very long time after he died because he was very successful at keeping it quiet and I thought 'Well bugger it, I'm going to tell the secret.'
“So that's what I'm doing and it's shocking and disturbing and surprising and unexpected and all those things make for great theatre.”
Accompanied by the talented pianist John Martin who previously toured with her, Margolyes said the text of the show has not changed over the years, although she had, which had given her a different perspective on some of the characters.
“In the beginning, my favourite character was Mrs Gamp who was my entry point in to the show and a wonderfully outrageous character from a novel called Martin Chuzzlewit, which is not a particularly good novel or his best, but there's some particularly good characters which are just heaven," she said.
“And then as I've got older, I think Miss Havisham has become the pre-eminent character for me, who is in the second half towards the end and I think she's the one who the audience seems to take away with them.”
Margolyes said it also didn't seem so revolutionary like it first did when she breaks the fourth wall, slipping back and forth between characters and speaking as herself.
“Now it's not so experimental but it still has an enthusiasm behind it because I have never altered in my passion for the man,” she shared.
“You can't ever be sure why a writer fills your landscape the way Charles Dickens does mine, but I think it's partly a temperamental type of thing because I'm a bit of an over the top character and he writes over the top characters.
“I think I'm drawn to that kind of exuberance that's in his writing.”
Indeed, Margolyes has evolved in to quite an expert when it comes to the writing of Dickens since picking up her first novel of his, Oliver Twist, at age 11.
At the moment she is re-reading Great Expectations in preparation for the annual Charles Dickens conference in America.
“I think the thing is that telling a story, or listening to a story, is a human need,” Margolyes said.
“I know when I was a little girl, my mother used to read me a story and immediately after she'd finish, I'd ask her to tell it to me again. It's a sort of longing and I think that that is completely worldwide.”
Dickens' Women is on Friday, March 30 at 8pm and Saturday, March 31 at 2pm and 8pm.
Tickets at BOCS.