Year: 1980

Title of the play: The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby

Author: Charles Dickens, Adapted by David Edgar

Director: Trevor Nunn and John Caird

Others in the Cast: Roger Rees, Emily Richard, Jane Downs, Hubert Rees, John Woodvine, David Threlfall 

Company/Event: Royal Shakespeare Company

Theatre and location: Aldwych Theatre, London

Other productions of the same play: 1981: Plymouth Theatre, New York

Plot summary:

Peth’s role: Newman Noggs; Hawk’s Rival


I don't know which of ''Nicholas Nickleby's'' two directors, Trevor Nunn or John Caird, decided that the thing to do with Newman Noggs was to pretend he wasn't there, but whoever may have opted for the fellow's virtual invisibility was absolutely, unarguably right. Brushing Noggs in as though he were the most dismissible of supers, refusing to stress his presence or to underline the fact that he is carefully observing every fateful step the plot takes, makes the whole thing twice as much fun for those of us out front. It gives us the deep pleasure of locating Noggs for ourselves, and then of warmly congratulating ourselves for having picked him out so early. You see, Newman Noggs - who is a meek and matter-of-fact clerk in the offices of Nicholas's reprehensible Uncle Ralph - is of vast importance to everything that is finally going to happen. He is, as it turns out, impromptu guardian angel to the whole Nickleby clan - it's all he can do to keep those Nicklebys out of trouble - but that is pretty much his secret in the earlier stages of the game.  Walter Kerr, New York Times, November 26, 1981

As the tipsy clerk Newman Noggs, a fallen gentleman afraid of his own every move, Edward Petherbridge elevates a comic type with rending poetry. - Frank Rich, New York Times, October 5, 1981

Another review here:


Production details


London 1981

London 1980

Related links:  

Also, if you can find it, take a peek at the poem “On The Actor Edward Petherbridge” by Mary Kinzie in Summers of Vietnam and Other Poems. Extract: In 'Nicholas Nickleby' that dark place of bodies and bodily gloom, He seemed the source of light”…   


A little sidebar on EP’s use of the word “cudulles” in the movie:



EP as Newman Noggs with his lovely wife Emily Richard as Kate Nickleby. Screenshots from the TV version (extract on Youtube)


A better pic here 


Another pic and review here

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