Dickens’ most dastardly: a Q&A with actor Martin Giles

The character Quilp in THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP is arguably one of the most sinister to ever emerge from the imagination of Charles Dickens.  Actor Martin Giles takes on the role in PICT Classic Theatre’s current production, and shares some insight on his portrayal.


Martin Giles and Caroline Lucas in PICT Classic Theatre’s THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP.


Do you enjoy portraying a villain in this production of The Old Curiosity Shop? You were cast as the hero, Mr. Brownlow, in Oliver Twist and the admirable Joe Gargery in Great Expectations.


MG:  It’s quite enjoyable playing the villain, especially one so odd, both physically and psychologically, as Daniel Quilp.  He seems to be suffering even as he takes pleasure in his behavior.  He has an endless hunger and at the same time a joi de vivre.  A real oddball.

What are you looking forward to in this production?


MG:  I look forward to knowing the character and circumstances so well that I don’t have to think about anything, but just play.


What do you find is one of your greatest challenges in portraying a character like Quilp?


MG:  My biggest challenges in the piece are the strange, twisted physicality I’ve discovered for Quilp, which is tiring and slightly painful, and mastering and wringing all the expressive possibilities out of the quirky, dense way of speaking Quilp has.  It’s a full mind and body experience.


The Old Curiosity Shop is your third Dickens production with PICT. Do you have any thoughts on Dickens after portraying three of his most famous (and infamous) and well as legendary characters?


MG:  Dickens?  Well, he’s just great.  Great characters in a sprawling and endlessly interesting and surprising story.  The whole broad range of the human comedy.
Almost as rich and bountiful as Shakespeare.




PICT Classic Theatre’s THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP performs through December 15th at WQED’s Fred Rogers Studio in Oakland.  TICKETS AND INFORMATION.