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Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Simon Callow visits Bromsgrove Artrix - Charles Dickens and the great theatre of the world

Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World 
On Saturday 25 February 2012, I spent a lovely afternoon in the audience of Simon Callow’s talk about his recent publication “Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World” at Bromsgrove’s Artrix theatre.

The auditorium was packed, everyone waiting for Simon Callow to enter stage right, onto the stage. He did so, with a big smile and admitted it was his first trip to Bromsgrove, although he has visited Shakespeare’s Stratford upon Avon and Birmingham frequently.

With his strong and distinctive voice, Callow had the audience entranced for nearly 90 minutes and at many times the audience were laughing along with Callow and at others you could hear a pin drop while he had the audience wanting to know all he knew about the author.

Callow started his talk with the fact that he liked to Google the town he was visiting to see if it had any connections to Charles Dickens – the results: Simon Callow and Artrix theatre. No links there then!

Callow first introduction to the work of Charles Dickens was when his grandmother gave him a copy of The Pickwick Papers while he had Chickenpox and then he was hooked.

Callow reminisced with the audience about his times on the stage in Charles Dickens plays – playing Mr Cratchett and falling through a trap door, and a fellow actor asking if he had gone to the wine cellar! The laughter went through the auditorium at many times throughout the talk.

The start of the second half of the talk began with Callow reading from The Pickwick Papers. The actor within came to life, with great facial expressions, and although he was on stage alone, he appeared to change before my eyes into an old man or a younger man as the talk requested. It was amazing to watch and I am itching to see him on stage again soon.

Callow has done detailed research while writing this book and that is evident while reading it. It is full of interesting facts and both while reading the book and listening to him speaking, it was clear to see that he has enjoyed this project and it was one dear to his heart.  The book does not only tell the nice side to Dickens - it is all there; the highs, the lows, and all the bits in between!

Following the talk, Callow joined the audience in the foyer while he chatted to them and signed copies of the book. He was a lovely man, who had made time to talk with each person in the queue and answer their questions.

I would like to thank the publishers, Harper Press, for sending the book and to both them and The Artrix Theatre for providing me with the ticket for the talk.

The book is a really good read and I would recommend it to any fans of Charles Dickens. It is a well researched book and a fascinating read about one of the greatest authors of all time. 

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