Charles Dickens is not usually remembered as a dramatist; in fact, the contemporary success of his subsequently neglected dramatic writing is predicated on the absence of the authorial persona that we now consider ‘Dickensian’. Drawing on findings from a practice-led research project, which staged Dickens’s burletta Is She His Wife? or, Something Singular!, this article examines what performing this play can tell us about Dickensian dramaturgy and nineteenth-century theatrical culture. Interrogating the role of practice-led research in the study of nineteenth-century drama, we suggest that this methodology allows contemporary scholars to look beyond Dickens’s contemporary significance as a canonised literary and heritage figure. Our historically informed production illuminates the ways in which Dickens used material properties, music, and performance strategies to stage-manage his own disappearing act as a playwright.