By D Cannon
A little bit of history, a little bit of literature, and a large dose of comedy are delivered by the talented team behind ‘A Little Bit of Dickens’ at Paradise in the Kirkhouse.
The show follows petulant present-day schoolboy Charlie as he’s magicked back in time by Charles Dickens to learn all about life in the Victorian era through a series of encounters with Dickens’ characters. It’s fair to say that those with prior knowledge of these characters will get the most from this show, but there’s still plenty of entertainment and information on offer for those not already acquainted with Dickens’ work. There’s a good deal of well delivered comedy, together with some effective audience interaction, all enhanced by catchy musical numbers. The show also paints a detailed historical picture of the period, without at any time feeling as though it’s force-feeding facts to its audience, and there are some very strong points in the piece when Charlie learns how tough life was for Victorian children.
The actors (Scott Oswald, Leona O’Sullivan, and David O’Connor) put everything they have into delivering this nicely written script, and give charismatic, characterful performances in multiple roles with super-quick costume-changes. The set in the small studio where the play is performed is really minimal – Charlie’s time-travel is signalled just by the turning of a small screen – but they make good use of what they have. There’s effective use of simple sound effects and the production is as polished as the writing and performances.
This is a play that will appeal specifically to children who are curious about history, especially those who chuckle at Horrible Histories, but more generally just to anyone who loves a good story. There was an appreciative, but small crowd in the day we attended, but with its strong script, engaging performances, and slick production, the show really deserves to be seen by much bigger audiences.