Charles Dickens’ Last Play, Co-Written with Wilkie Collins
This antique playbill, dating back to 1867, promotes the production of “No Thoroughfare” at the Boston Museum.
A collaborative work by Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins, “No Thoroughfare” was originally written as a novella and later adapted into a play. The story revolves around the lives of two young men, Walter Wilding and George Vendale, who become entangled in a complex web of deceit, mystery, and romance.
The playbill begins by announcing the immediate production of “No Thoroughfare,” dramatized from Dickens’ and Collins’ latest Christmas story.
It highlights the involvement of Messrs. L. R. Shewell and F. Williams in the adaptation process and emphasizes the utilization of the best available resources to bring the story to life on stage. Additionally, the playbill mentions the incorporation of new scenic effects, promising audiences a visually captivating experience.
Historical Context and Success of the Production
The production of “No Thoroughfare” premiered on December 26th, 1867, and enjoyed remarkable success, running for an impressive 200 performances.
This achievement was particularly notable for the time, reflecting the popularity and quality of the production. The playbill’s mention of the play’s longevity underscores its significance and enduring appeal to audiences of the era.
Though Dickens was renowned for his novels, also crafted compelling dramas. Another notable Charles Dickens play is “The Frozen Deep,” again co-authored with Wilkie Collins, which tells the story of love and sacrifice. “The Strange Gentleman” and “Is She His Wife?” further exhibit Dickens’s versatility in theatrics.
Auction Sale and Value
Sold at auction by Britannic Auctions for $450, the antique playbill stands as a collectible for enthusiasts of literature, theater, and the works of Charles Dickens.
During Dickens’ time, playbills were printed in limited quantities and often discarded after performances, leading to their scarcity today.
Additionally, the ephemeral nature of playbills meant that few survived the passage of time, further contributing to their rarity. As a result, original playbills serve as valuable historical artifacts that offer insight into the theatrical productions of Dickens’ era and provide collectors with tangible connections to the author’s works and the cultural milieu in which they were performed.