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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Limelight stages a Dickens of a good play

IF there was anything Charles Dickens relished more than writing his stories it was either reading them aloud in public or acting them out with family and friends.

And this is the basis of the current presentation by Limelight Productions at Llangollen Town Hall, A Dickens of an Evening, written and directed by Peter Read, which sees action from some of the great man's tales cleverly interwoven with aspects of his own life.
Not all Dickens’s tales had a happy ending and this is the case with some of those portrayed on stage by a fine cast of players.

Because, despite the massive fame and prosperity his writings helped him achieve in his own lifetime, Dickens was apparently not a happy man, we discover.
His difficult and strained relationship with his wife Catherine comes painfully across as does his relationship, considered scandalous at the time, with young actress Ellen Ternan.

Pete Darby gives a powerful and masterful portrayal of Dickens and thanks to his magnificent home-grown whiskers manages to look quite a bit like him too.
A sensitive interpretation of put-upon wife Catherine comes from Eiri Jones and there’s a neat cameo of Dickens’s close friend and fellow playwright and novelist Wilkie Collins by young Limelight star Joseph John Scatley.

Equally at home in his role as Dickens’s agent John Forster is Christopher Bawden, and Hannah Lilly Baker makes a believable Ellen Ternan, while Ellen’s mother, Mrs Ternan, is skilfully played by Fiona Bassett.
Each of the performers takes on secondary roles and, in the case of Christopher Bawden and Joseph John Scatley this deftly includes some of the toys from Dicken’s childhood as he reflects back on his own early Christmases.

The two-act play  includes some marvellous sequences from Dickens’s work such as his trademark Christmas Carol and his seasonally-themed short stories A Christmas Tree and The Haunted Man.
There’s still one performance of a Dickens of an Evening to run at the Town Hall, which starts at 7.30pm this evening (Saturday).

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