The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Part 2

California Shakespeare’s epic production is expansive and enthralling. Part 2 is even bigger than Part 1, covering three-and-a-half hours (with two short intermissions) and a cast of 24 actors.

Nickleby is a vast, intricate tapestry. Its dark view of business-driven Victorian society is balanced by the bright, fragile goodness of human nature. This melodramatic, but entirely absorbing, story shows us the decadence of the idle rich, the desperate lives of the poor and the wrenching transition when someone falls abruptly from the former category into the latter.

Driving from Sacramento to Orinda takes a bit of time, but this show is more than worth the trip. There won’t be another large-scale theater production the equal of Nickleby in these parts for years. It’s outstanding—a rare event that people will be talking about for seasons to come. If you missed Part 1, don’t despair. Both halves will be staged in repertory during mid-September.