Saturday 26 September | 8pm| £16 £15 U16
From Adam Long, founding member of The Reduced Shakespeare Company and co-creator of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) comes Dickens Abridged – a fast-paced musical comedy. An absurdly talented cast of four bring hundreds of the great author’s best-loved characters to life in 70 minutes of madcap Dickensian mayhem.
This wonderful show is a high-speed comic journey through Dickens' Greatest Hits, including Oliver Twist, Great Expectations (complete with flaming bride), David Copperfield, Bleak House in less than sixty seconds, A Tale of Two Cities featuring a fully functioning guillotine, Nicholas Nickleby, The Old Curiosity Shop, and, of course… A Christmas Carol.
It also delves into the bizarre-but-true story of Charles Dickens’ own life, including his complicated romantic entanglements and his inexplicable enthusiasm for performing the bludgeoning scene from Oliver Twist over and over and over again.
A singing, dancing love-letter to the life and works of the great man and unlike any Dickens-based show you've ever seen before.
'Irrevent, witty, fast paced and outrageous'. The Stage
'A vibrant cultural mash-up in which the grateful dead meets the ghost of Christmas past'. Telegraph
Broadway Baby ★★★★★
When I consider Charles Dickens, a man whose life was seemingly a stumble from one tragedy to the next, I tend not to think ‘comedy stage show material’. But I don’t think I’ll be able to resist from now on, having seen the sublimely hilarious Dickens Abridged. This is more than just a simple lampooning: it’s a lovingly crafted tribute to one of Britain’s most legendary writers. And luckily, it’s bloody hilarious.
Comedically, there isn’t a flat bulb in the box. Every single pun, one-liner and visual gag is delivered with nearly surgical precision and timing – and for a show packed with as many jokes as this one, that’s one hell of an achievement. What’s more, the show includes scenes which are genuinely touching. The sensitivity and thought with which the cast approach Dickens’ life is both surprising and impressive. And no less can be said of the cast themselves. Every single one of them is on the ball from the first minute, and move between the various sketches and intensely quick costume changes so well that it seems utterly relaxed and effortless. Bateman and co have created their own cohesive, mad little world within the bounds of the Pleasance stage, and it’s utterly compelling.
This is all helped immensely by their considerable musical talent. Matt Bateman’s almost intimidatingly powerful voice lends brilliantly to his portrayal of Dickens (especially during some gut-punching harmonies with Matthew Hendrickson) combined with the instrumental talents of Gallo and Sarreal for a slew of songs with more than a little American Blues-y spice. Every new verse is fresh, dynamic and clever – and it never feels shoehorned in. This is a triumph of literary comedy. Even people who aren’t familiar with Dickens’ work will find ample laughs in this engrossing tour of his legacy, and at the very least find themselves leaving with more than one melody stuck in their head. This was nothing short of a spectacle, and I’d very happily pay full price to see it again. I cannot recommend this show enough.
British Theatre Guide ★★★★
Philip Fisher 12th August 2015
Adam Long was one of the founders of Reduced Shakespeare and continually manages to come up with alternative shows based on the same formula.
For 2015, he applies the magic to the life and works of Charles Dickens. 70 minutes fly by and, unusually, there is a good deal of biographical information delivered in the trademark comic style by an expanded cast that is now four-strong.
Dickens himself is shorter, fatter, Americaner and gingerer than traditional British propaganda has led us to expect but his history is familiar. This is interspersed with renditions of the novels in a variety of styles. At one end of the scale, Bleak House and The Old Curiosity Shop are delivered in songs that between them last under half a minute. Barnaby Rudge, amongst others doesn’t make it at all.
Favourites such as Oliver Twist and David Copperfield are given more considered treatments with laughter never far away. The highlights though are A Christmas Carol, which is used to end the performance on a high and, more surprisingly, A Tale of Two Cities. The great novel of the French Revolution may not seem obvious material for comedy but in Mr Long's hands brings the house down.
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