As Callow leap frogs between simple biographical facts and wonderfully clear characterisations of Dickens' most well-known characters you learn of Dickens' difficult childhood and turbulent adulthood. A deeply complex man, he comes to life as Callow re-enacts his live readings and gives extracts from his own letters and notes. Callow, in the really interesting post-show Q&A, insists however that he did not simply want to reproduce Dickens. His performance is not a mirror of the man, but a flavour of him, presented to show us the passion and complexity of the man - something which Callow certainly achieves.
Along with explaining how he came to do this piece in particular and how he tackled the script and research required Simon Callow also gave us an insight into why he choses one-man shows at all. Challenging as they are, for Callow they provide the opportunity to really interact with an audience and tell a story, something which Callow believes is at the very heart of any theatrical endeavour. The post-show Q&A also threw light on Callow's experience of other pieces, both one-man shows and full cast productions, as well as his written work and years at university as a dresser for Micheál mac Liammóir, one of his many inspirations.
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