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An Audience with Charles Dickens (Canford Magna)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Over 150 years after the great Victorian author, Charles Dickens, took to the stage to recite and re-enact famed passages from his own best-loved novels, great, great grandson – actor, Gerald Dickens, follows in his ancestors illustrious footsteps, and recreates An Audience with Charles Dickens.

Playing to a capacity audience at Canford School’s delightful Layard Theatre, Dickens faithfully recreates not only the setting, a simple stage-set “comprising a small reading-desk and a screen… which acted as a sound-board to help the projection of his voice”, but the energy and passion of the great author. Extracts from some of the author’s greatest works - David Copperfield, A Christmas Carol, and The Pickwick Papers – are interspersed with fascinating anecdotes and insights into the man himself. Gerald throws everything he has into a powerhouse performance, bringing characters such as Uriah Heep, The Macawbers, and Ebeneezer Scrooge, to life – never more effectively than in the chokingly emotional and chilling ‘murder of Nancy’ sequence from Oliver Twist

The second half is given over to Gerald Dickens’ virtuoso performance of Nicholas Nickleby. In an extra-ordinary and exhausting piece of theatre, Dickens retells the entire story, playing all the key characters in little under one hour. No mean feat when you consider that the famed RSC production of the 1980s, required a cast of 40 and 8 hours to tell the story!

Gerald Dickens provides a unique and electrifying opportunity not only to rejoice in the rich language and skillfully carved characters of one of this country’s finest authors, but to get closer to and celebrate the man himself.


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