Get you Oliver Jr Tickets-Walton & Hampton Hill! Our casts are busy rehearsing and our fabulous Production Designer, Hannah Callarco, is working her magic to recreate Dickens’ London on stage. And you lucky folk get a peek backstage to see the work in progress!
Charles Dickens famously depicted Victorian London in most of his novels. Oliver Twist’s introduction to his new neighbourhood was far from welcoming, as Dickens wrote:
“A dirtier or more wretched place he had never seen. The street was very narrow and muddy, and the air was impregnated with filthy odours…..drunken men and women were positively wallowing in filth; and from several doorways, great ill-looking fellows were cautiously emerging, bound, to all appearance, upon no very well-disposed or harmless errand.”
Thus, painting a picture of Victorian London as smelly, filthy and full of criminal alcoholics-this wasn’t far from the truth!
Smog & Pollution
A population explosion after 1800 meant that the London slums were overcrowded and ill-equipped to cope. Poor sanitation and little access to running water meant that people were filthy and most waste, including from the toilet, the butchers and even dead animals, were dumped in the Thames. The smell was appalling and disease was rife!
Unwanted children were lucky to make it as far as the workhouse as they were often given to, or adopted by Baby Farmers in return for payment. Such places were condemned by Dickens as children were often starved in order to maximise profits for the farmers.
Alcohol Consumed like Tap Water
Access to clean water was limited and unreliable during this period so many poor people drank alcohol instead! As noted in the workhouse menu, beer was consumed in place of water. The word “hangover” referred to a service provided in dosshouses (hostels) for people who were drunk or could not afford a bed. For a penny a night you could sit on a bench, with a rope to hang your arms over, so that you could rest and attempt to sleep!
If you fancy coming to see our version of Dickens’ foul, smelly and filth-ridden London, book tickets here!