Monday, 19 September 2016

A Tale of Two Cities | Royal and Derngate Theatre | Guest Post

Today I've got a review for you written by my lovely mother, Liz Bolas. Liz is just as interested and involved with theatre as I am and has recently become an ambassador for the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre. This involves her previewing touring productions that will be visiting the Grand Theatre in the future and we thought it would be great to share her review of the show to give you an idea of what to expect before you book your tickets. This will hopefully become a regular feature so I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did!

My experience of Charles Dickens was tainted at school in 6th form by his novel Domby and Son so when I was invited to got to The Royal & Derngate theatres in Northampton to preview A Tale of Two Cities, before it comes to Wolverhampton's Grand Theatre, it was with trepidation that I accepted. I am happy to report that my view of Dickens has been totally turned around by this stunning production from the Touring Consortium Theatre Company.

This stage adaptation by Mike Poulton (whose previous adaptations include Hilary Mantle's Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies) is set between the cities of London and Paris during a period of the French revolution in the late 1700's. The protagonist, Charles Darnay, is on trial in London at the beginning of the story, and again in Paris towards the end. In the interim years he marries the love of his life, Lucie Manette, the daughter of a doctor whom he met on one of his many mysterious crossings from France to London. The tale draws out the complexities of his relationship with his father-in-law among other characters. The story is absolutely gripping and at the end of act one I was left eager to see what would develop in the second half. If you're not familiar with the story all I’ll say is that there is an unexpected twist and a traumatic, nail biting conclusion.

From the onset the play draws you in with its use of atmospheric lighting and a musical score which adds to the dramatic sets. More than half of the professional cast of thirteen play at least two roles, and that number is boosted by the involvement of a community cast who play the people of London and the Paris mob, without which the production would lack believability.

If you are, as I was, dubious about seeing a live adaptation of a Dickens novel ask yourself this: do I enjoy TV period dramas with likeable characters, intriguing relationships and beautiful costumes? If the answer to this is 'yes' then go and see this production when it comes to a theatre near you: you won't regret your decision. Details of the tour can be found here. For tickets to see it in Wolverhampton from October 19th to 22nd, contact the box office here.


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