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Dickens Abridged at Arts Theatre

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by Bastion Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
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Dickens in Bite-Size Pieces
dickens abridged, arts theatre
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Charles Dickens is considered one of the greatest writers of our time, but it is a mystery as to why, since most people I know can't stand his writing. Out of all his books, there is only one I have enjoyed reading, and that is a Christmas Carol. The reason? It is short. Or to be more precise, it is concise.

You see, I love his stories; I think they are fantastic. I loved watching the BBC drama Bleak House and Great Expectations, which both starred Gillian Anderson. Dickens's plots are so detailed, carefully woven, and thought out, and there is no one else who can fit a name to a character, quite like him. So why do I hate his books?

Dickens may be brilliant at plots, but he is awful at writing. His books are far too long-winded due to over describing everything. The first five pages of Bleak House, for example, describes nothing but fog. It's foggy, okay, we get it. Let's move on.

That seems to be the sentiment of Adam Long as well. A founding member of The Reduced Shakespeare Company, he is no stranger to turning lengthy tales into manageable bite-size pieces.

But even Long had a big challenge ahead of him when he planned to abridge all the major works of Dickens into a ninety minute play. Yet he managed it. Up until the 5th January, you can see his high-speed comedy at The Arts Theatre for 20-39.50.

The show includes Oliver Twist, Great Expectations (told in sixty seconds), David Copperfield, Bleak House, A Tale of Two Cities, Nicholas Nickleby, Old Curiosity Shop, and A Christmas Carol as the grand finale. There will also be scenes from Dickens's own life.

So if you want to see severed singing heads, Tiny Tim rock the house down on an electric guitar, and unimaginably quick costume changes - this is the show for you.
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Why? Fun at the theatre
When: Until 5th Jan
Phone: 020 7836 8463
Where: The Arts Theatre
Cost: 20-39.50
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