Review: Dickens Abridged, Arts Theatre ✭✭✭✭

Have you ever wished for Bill Bailey and Tenacious D to collaborate on an actor-musician piece based on the life and works of Charles Dickens? Well now you don’t have to because the hilarious Dickens Abridged has landed at the Arts Theatre for Christmas and you would be forgiven for thinking it was created by this duo.

In actual fact, it is written and directed by Adam Long. This delicious romp of a show will have you sniggering, giggling and downright guffawing in your seats. With most of Dickens’ life and novels squished into an action packed and musical ninety minutes complete with a festive finale, this is great Christmas show.

A company of 5 faultless actor-musicians impeccably led by Damian Humbley as Charles Dickens himself. Humbley is in his comedic element. Perfectly timed, beautifully sung and totally at one with the audience. He easily portrayed the joy and the anxiety of this apparently troubled man with gusto and honesty. Jon Robyns brings with his his good looks, rock star capacity and heartfelt moments and Gerard Carey shines as the (rather hairy) wife of Dickens and in his hilarious solo storytelling moments.

The choreography was subtle and perfectly matched the moods of the moments. Expertly enhancing the story lines rather than getting in the way and creating moments of hilarity through its simplicity.

A few slower sections in the piece occasionally felt a little too slow after such speedy, slap-in-your-face comedy and a few technical glitches occurred but this made the piece all the more enjoyable as they were excellently handled with comic virtuoso; the camaraderie between the players was felt and their corpsing was applause-inducing for the crowd.

Dickens experts and novices alike, walk the streets of London – as like the man himself – and get yourself a ticket to the funniest show in town this Christmas.

**** (4 stars)
Runs until 5th January 2014
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