FRINGE Charles Dickens: The Uncommercial Traveller by Giles Davies Fringe

DELIGHT in the absurd, the grotesque, the pathetic and all the exaggerated aspects of human nature has made the novels of Charles Dickens apt material for the stage.

But it is the theatricality of the author - and actor - himself which becomes the subject of Charles Dickens: The Uncommercial Traveller, a one-hour-20-minute tour de force monologue rendered unfalteringly by Giles Davies.

The two-part performance first gives Dickens' observations as he tours America and comments on the sights and the frights of the salacious press, dandyish fashions and the voracious appetites of those who wear them.

The second half is the celebrated rendition of The Death of Nancy which Dickens gave as he travelled.

What at first glance was the essentially academic exercise of keeping alive the art of story-telling is hardly likely to be a box office sell-out when the potential audience is besieged by the soft media of television and video.

However, if spectators fidgeted through the slightly heavy satire of part one, they responded to the horror and the pathos of Bill Sykes' brutal murder of Nancy and his own grisly end - hung as he clutched at a dagger in his stiffening hand.

One could imagine Dickens the novelist bringing to life - and death - his own creations.