What the Dickens?

Olive Copperbottom - A Dickensian Tale of Love, Gin and the Pox.

Olive Copperbottom - A Dickensian Tale of Love, Gin and the Pox.

To avoid disappointment at missing out on comedian Penny Ashton’s show Olive Copperbottom - A Dickensian Tale of Love, Gin and the Pox, do not read this preview.

You’re not going to get in.

Actually, that is a dirty, low-down fib and what’s more it was Charles Dickens’ idea.

“It is a hopeless endeavour to attract people to the theatre,” he once wrote, “unless they first be brought to believe they will never get in,”

Having established herself as the Victorian author’s new co-writer, Ashton’s new show is nothing if not irreverent. Olive Copperbottom is described as a rollicking, romantic, musical journey through 15 gin-soaked characters told with song, dance and questionable personal hygiene. The show is not based on David Copperfield alone but blends various bits from Dickens’ novels that Ashton has shaped into a glorious, sprawling story with a saucy feminine twist.

Kiwi twist

“I got various tropes and quotes and character types from Dickens’ books and wound them together in a new story,” says Ashton.

Olive sees her mother dying then she goes into an orphanage. There is prostitution and there are travelling players.

“I like to bring to the classics an Antipodean irreverence,” says Ashton. “They’re rollicking good tales with a colonial aspect. My heritage is English and Irish. These people came here and f***** everything up but we wouldn’t be here without them.

“I give the show a Kiwi twist. The characters are going to sail to New Zealand on HMS Colonial Arrogance.”

Along with colourful, flouncy costumes, song and ribaldry, Olive Copperbottom- A Dickensian Tale of Love, Gin and the Pox comes with social commentary “as there is in Dickens”.

As a 12-year-old, the future author of Oliver Twist had to leave school to work 10 hours a day in a boot blacking factory to help support his family. This is said to explain why the figure of the lost, persecuted, or helpless child is so often at the centre of his novels.

Dickens was very much about equality, says Ashton.

Victorian social warrior

“He philandered his way around the place but he was a social warrior.”

At university Ashton studied classics and drama but not Regency period writers like Jane Austen or Victorian author Charles Dickens. She does love lush TV and movie adaptations of their works though.

“I love the costumes and characters and dialogue in those adaptations.”

In a few seconds a slow pan shot can cover a page or so of descriptive writing. Austen’s writing is sparkling and hilarious, says Ashton.

“I love playing Austen’s messy characters.

“I did a group show based on Jane Austen called Austen and found that went well so I wrote Promise and Promiscuity. That went really well and led to Charles Dickens.”

  • Penny Ashton brings her new show Olive Copperbottom - A Dickensian Tale of Love, Gin and the Pox to the Dome on April 1. Tickets $30 from The Aviary, PBC and Gisborne i-SITE.

To avoid disappointment at missing out on comedian Penny Ashton’s show Olive Copperbottom - A Dickensian Tale of Love, Gin and the Pox, do not read this preview.

You’re not going to get in.

Actually, that is a dirty, low-down fib and what’s more it was Charles Dickens’ idea.

“It is a hopeless endeavour to attract people to the theatre,” he once wrote, “unless they first be brought to believe they will never get in,”

Having established herself as the Victorian author’s new co-writer, Ashton’s new show is nothing if not irreverent. Olive Copperbottom is described as a rollicking, romantic, musical journey through 15 gin-soaked characters told with song, dance and questionable personal hygiene. The show is not based on David Copperfield alone but blends various bits from Dickens’ novels that Ashton has shaped into a glorious, sprawling story with a saucy feminine twist.

Kiwi twist

“I got various tropes and quotes and character types from Dickens’ books and wound them together in a new story,” says Ashton.

Olive sees her mother dying then she goes into an orphanage. There is prostitution and there are travelling players.

“I like to bring to the classics an Antipodean irreverence,” says Ashton. “They’re rollicking good tales with a colonial aspect. My heritage is English and Irish. These people came here and f***** everything up but we wouldn’t be here without them.

“I give the show a Kiwi twist. The characters are going to sail to New Zealand on HMS Colonial Arrogance.”

Along with colourful, flouncy costumes, song and ribaldry, Olive Copperbottom- A Dickensian Tale of Love, Gin and the Pox comes with social commentary “as there is in Dickens”.

As a 12-year-old, the future author of Oliver Twist had to leave school to work 10 hours a day in a boot blacking factory to help support his family. This is said to explain why the figure of the lost, persecuted, or helpless child is so often at the centre of his novels.

Dickens was very much about equality, says Ashton.

Victorian social warrior

“He philandered his way around the place but he was a social warrior.”

At university Ashton studied classics and drama but not Regency period writers like Jane Austen or Victorian author Charles Dickens. She does love lush TV and movie adaptations of their works though.

“I love the costumes and characters and dialogue in those adaptations.”

In a few seconds a slow pan shot can cover a page or so of descriptive writing. Austen’s writing is sparkling and hilarious, says Ashton.

“I love playing Austen’s messy characters.

“I did a group show based on Jane Austen called Austen and found that went well so I wrote Promise and Promiscuity. That went really well and led to Charles Dickens.”

  • Penny Ashton brings her new show Olive Copperbottom - A Dickensian Tale of Love, Gin and the Pox to the Dome on April 1. Tickets $30 from The Aviary, PBC and Gisborne i-SITE.
Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    Do you agree with the Mayor that there is a case for returning to zebra crossings in the city centre?