Dickens actress lives up to Diocesan students' great expectations
Students at Diocesan School for Girls may have hoped for a taste of Harry Potter when British actress Miriam Margoyles visited their Auckland school this week. But they hadn't bargained on how passionate the 70-year-old BAFTA award-winning actress is about the only real love of her life - Charles Dickens.
About 150 Drama and English students at the all-girls independent school in Epsom were treated to a special one-off performance by Margoyles, who is famous for appearing in the Harry Potter movies, James and the Giant Peach and the Black Adder television series.
Margoyles, who is touring New Zealand with her critically acclaimed one-woman show, Dickens Women to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the 18th Century author's birth, cast a spell over her young audience as she wove tales about Dickens' life and works. "I fell in love with Dickens when I was 11. He is the greatest writer of prose and creator of more than 2000 characters. At the time he died he was a great celebrity - the greatest man in the world. People would queue up to see him drink a glass of water!"
Before reading two captivating excerpts from Dickens' Great Expectations which included three of his most famous characters - Mrs Havesham, the boy Pip and the convict Magwitch - Margoyles jokingly pronounced: "I don't give a tuppeny-fart if you think it is boring. You will learn and listen."
Margoyles spoke of how Dickens was a great moralist who described human life "in all of its extremity and people in all their entirety, with all of their faults and secrets".
Asked by one student why she felt such a personal affinity with Dickens, she said: "There is a temperamental link. I have an excess of exuberance, like Dickens himself."
Mrs Havisham was one of Margoyles' favourite characters because as she grew older she could see the pathos behind people's evil and that we all have many facets. And her favourite part of acting in the Harry Potter movies? "The money."
Diocesan head girl and Drama student Annelise Hassell said when students heard the famous actress was going to appear at their school they couldn't quite believe it and her performance more than lived up to their own great expectations.
"I was really impressed with the way she portrays herself and switches into character. When she snaps between characters, you automatically know because you can see her whole body.