Week 2: Rehearsing DICKENS ABRIDGED

Week 2: Rehearsing DICKENS ABRIDGED

Adam Long

Week two of the Dickens Abridged rehearsals have taken a turn from the sublime to the ridiculous and back to the sublime (with a detour to the gloriously inexplicable along the way). Simon Cummin, our producer, spent the weekend searching for a prop dog for Bill Sikes. He finally found a life-size, anatomically correct, stuffed Doberman male plus mate and four puppies on eBay. Unsurprisingly, Simon was the only bidder.

The Doberman family, plus our ten-year-old daughter's scooter, and many other weird and wonderful props (including a slab of beef for our dancing butcher in Oliver Twist) have found their way into the rehearsal room. These props have kept the cast happily occupied in between running scenes. The cudgel with the squeaker inside has proven surprisingly popular.

The costumes also arrived this week and our boys have proved surprisingly adept at box stepping and high-kicking while wearing floor-length skirts. Mark Bailey, our designer, has done an amazing job of transforming our five actors into a cast of 60+ characters.

Our collection of musical instruments continues to grow. We have now collected four acoustic guitars, the Flying-V electric guitar, a Fender bass, two guiros, a piano, Sleigh Bells, a harmonica, a violin, cabasa, castanets, and two shaker eggs. For a brief moment, we made the acquaintance of an accordion but have since parted ways.

Construction is complete on the guillotine that will be used for the decapitation of Sydney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities. Miss Havisham's flaming head has been tested in a controlled experiment.

Our insanely talented cast of five continue to astound with their brilliance. However, rehearsals were brought to an abrupt halt on Friday afternoon when Tiny Tim (played by Gerard Carey) stole the scooter belonging to the Charles Dickens (played by Damian Humbley). Charles Dickens then commandeered the skateboard belonging to The Ghost of Christmas Present (brilliantly interpreted by Matthew Hendrickson) and a high-speed chase ensued. Meanwhile, Fagin and The Artful Dodger (Jon Robyns and Kit Orton) stripped off their shirts for no particular reason and began waltzing around the room. We feel sure that Dickens himself would have approved.

Dickens Abridged is at the Arts Theatre from Wednesday 27 November. Visit www.dickensabridged.com for more details and follow @DickensAbridged on Twitter for more anecdotes from the rehearsal room.

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