In London’s triumphant year and the bicentenary of Charles Dickens’ birth, Simon Callow returns to the West End stage in The Mystery of Charles Dickens, written by award-winning novelist, biographer and poet Peter Ackroyd - whose other work includes a revered volume on Charles Dickens and London: A Biography, which tells the story of the city which has exerted powerful influence over Ackroyd’s own writing.
Opening at The Playhouse Theatre on 13 September (Press Night 17 September), this celebration of one of London’s finest storytellers, The Mystery of Charles Dickens, sees Callow reprising the role of the infamous playwright, having last performed it at The Albery in 2002.
49 of Dickens’ best loved characters are brought to life by one man, in an exhilarating performance which echoes recitals Charles Dickens himself once gave.
Fresh from his portrayal of William Shakespeare in Being Shakespeare at the Trafalgar Studios, Callow now returns as another literary legend to weave between characters including Nicholas Nickleby, David Copperfield, Miss Havisham and Pip (from Great Expectations), Mr Pickwick (from The Pickwick Papers), Scrooge and Tiny Tim (from A Christmas Carol), Oliver Twist, Artful Dodger, Fagin, Bill Sykes and Nancy (from Oliver Twist).
As Dickens’ remarkable life unfurls on stage, prepare to encounter some of Victorian England’s most memorable and intriguing ladies and gentlemen. Travel to a land of pompous beadles and drunken midwives, and on through Europe and America to adventures and the most fashionable society parties. Witness love, hatred, comedy, passion and despair, in the company of one of the greatest writers of all time.
Simon Callow is best known for his roles in British movies A Room with a View, Maurice, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Shakespeare in Love and Christmas Carol: The Movie. As well as performing in Being Shakespeare and achieved huge success with A Christmas Carol, Dr Marigold & Mr Chops, Twelfth Night at the National Theatre and Waiting for Godot with Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart.
Callow has previously appeared as Charles Dickens in two episodes of Doctor Who, firstly in 2005 and again in the 2011 season finale. In this bicentenary year, Callow has written his own tribute to Dickens; Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World, the paperback version will be published in September.
Peter Ackroyd was awarded a CBE for services to literature in 2003 and he has been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature since 1984. After being appointed literary editor of The Spectator at the age of 23, he is chief book reviewer for The Times and a regular radio broadcaster.
Acclaimed biographies include works on Oscar Wilde, William Blake, T.S. Eliot, and Charles Dickens. London: The Biography (2000) was awarded the South Bank Show Annual Award for Literature. His novels include Chatterton and Hawksmoor, which was written in 1985 and won the Whitbread Award, and his book Dickens: Public Life and Private Passion, published in 2002 to accompany a three-part BBC TV series.
The Mystery of Charles Dickens will be directed by Richard Twyman whose credits include Henry IV Pt II (RSC/Roundhouse); Brassed Off (York Theatre Royal); and The Giant by Antony Sher (RSC). The original production was directed by Patrick Garland. Design is by Christopher Woods, with Lighting by Nick Richings.