An Evening with Miriam Margolyes at the Malton Dickensian Festival
“Not much has changed in the great divide of the poor and rich, which Dickens writes about so well,” celebrated stage and screen star Miriam Margolyes told an audience in the Wesley Centre on Saturday where she headlined Cause UK’s Malton Dickensian Festival at the weekend.
As she read passages from the author’s second novel, The Chimes, and letters from Dickens, she likened a toff character to Jacob Rees-Mogg and declared that “Boris Johnson is a scoundrel”.
“Nothing has changed in 200 years; the poor are getting poorer and the rich, richer. We still have harsh laws,” she said. “When asked by an audience member what she would like to say to Johnson, she said: “Whatever I told him, he wouldn’t listen. I would urge him to be a better human being. I don’t think he’s honourable – you must keep your word. That as how I was brought up to be. He’s a scoundrel.”
She said that she gives ten per cent of her income to charity, adding that she is “profoundly anxious about the impact that Brexit will have on the poor”.
She had the audience enraptured as she performed two of her favourite characters from her one-woman stage show Dickens’ Women – Mrs Gamp and Miss Havisham – the latter being a “study of snobbism”.
Ms Margolyes and Charles’ Dickens’ great great great granddaughter, Lucinda Hawksley, read passages from The Chimes, which celebrates its 175th anniversary this year, and letters Dickens wrote from Genoa whilst he was penning the novella, which features goblins, rather than the ghosts, of The Christmas Carol.
“Malton”, Ms Margolyes added, is one of my favourite places in the world to come, and it’s my third time here at the festival. It’s in one of the most beautiful parts of England and I love to meet the people. That is one of the reasons why I make documentaries now.”
Hawksley explained the background to the novella and that Dickens had been in depression and in debt himself. His books went on to be loved by all classes from the poor to royalty.
Also appearing at the festival on Friday evening, was RSC associate actor Dominic Gerrard, who gave a spellbinding retelling of The Christmas Carol with a puppet Scrooge.
Review: Catherine Turnbull, photo credits: David Harisson
The Malton Dickensian Festival team -Selina Scott, Clair Challenor-Chadwick, Miriam Margolyes, Lucinda Hawksley and Paul Emberley.