Adam Long, co-founder of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, has turned his condensing talents to Charles Dickens with a new comedy musical called Dickens Unplugged, which opens at the West End’s Comedy theatre on 9 June, following previews from 23 May.
Dickens Unplugged, which received a try-out at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud theatre in February, is billed as a comic journey through both the works and the life of Dickens, the 19th century author of classic novels including A Christmas Carol, Bleak House, Great Expectations, The Pickwick Papers, A Tale Of Two Cities and The Adventures Of Oliver Twist.
The show gives audiences a light-hearted insight into the colourful life of Dickens – his bleak childhood, complicated marriage, numerous children and final years – while also bringing to life some of the characters he created, including Oliver Twist, Tiny Tim, David Copperfield and Miss Havisham. Long’s original score features over 20 new songs and is performed on instruments including acoustic guitar, accordion, harmonica and horns.
As well as writing and directing the show, Long stars in it along with Joseph Attenborough, Matthew Hendrickson, Simon Jermond and Gabriel Vick.
American writer and performer Long has fashioned a successful career out of his ability to make short work of lengthy subjects. As co-founder of the Reduced Shakespeare Company he co-wrote and performed The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (Abridged), an irreverent 97-minute romp through all Shakespeare’s plays, which premiered at the Criterion theatre in 1996 and ran for nine years. He went on to co-write The Complete History Of America (Abridged), The Reduced Shakespeare Radio Show and a 30-minute version of Wagner’s Ring Cycle for Channel 4, The Ring Reduced. Other subjects to receive Long’s shortening treatment include the Stars Wars trilogy and Tony Blair. He is currently writing the condensed histories of the major British political parties for BBC Radio 4.
Dickens Unplugged takes up residence at the Comedy following Pinter double bill The Lover and The Collection, which ends its run on 3 May.