Newbury Productions stopped – all too briefly – at the New Theatre Royal on Wednesday night with their Dickens Abridged.
Fans of the brand may be a little surprised at this somewhat different angle on their mayhem. To begin with, the cast of four are all wonderful actor-singer-musicians and much of the piece is sung – and sung brilliantly and beautifully – to their own accompaniment.
The programme gave no credit to the composer of the folksy-rock score, so I’ll assume that Adam Long, founder of the company and writer of the words, was also responsible for the music.
And it’s great.
Also surprising is the power of the drama; the well-known final scene of A Tale of Two Cities, as hero and female prisoner await their turn for execution, is played here by Andrew Gallo and Martin Sarreal (in drag) and is genuinely, tear-jerkingly moving – a phenomenon that occurs on more than one occasion during the evening before resuming the usual insanity.
Matt Bateman plays Portsmouth’s most famous son and Matthew Hendrickson completes the mighty quartet.
Quite the best night’s theatre I’ve seen in a long, long time
The humour is clever, the sight-gags wonderful and the harmony singing superb.
Quite the best night’s theatre I’ve seen in a long, long time.