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Simon Callow returns to W/E in The Mystery of Charles Dickens

Simon Callow

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

IN THIS, the bicentenary year of Charles Dickens’ birth, Simon Callow returns to the West End in The Mystery of Charles Dickens, which runs at the Playhouse Theatre from September 17 (previews from September 13) to November 3, 2012.

Written by award-winning novelist, biographer and poet Peter Ackroyd, The Mystery of Charles Dickens sees Callow reprising the role of the infamous playwright, which he last performed at The Albery in 2002.

Forty nine of Dickens’ best loved characters are brought to life by one man in a performance which echoes recitals Charles Dickens himself once gave.

Characters include the eponymous Nicholas Nickleby and 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, audiences will encounter some of Victorian England’s most memorable and intriguing ladies and gentlemen. They will travel to a land of pompous beadles and drunken midwives, and on through Europe and America to adventures and the most fashionable society parties. They will witness love, hatred, comedy, passion and despair, in the company of one of the greatest writers of all time.

Simon Callow is probably best known for his roles in the British films A Room with a View, Maurice, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Shakespeare in Love and Christmas Carol: The Movie. However, his theatre credits include Being Shakespeare, A Christmas Carol, Dr Marigold and Mr Chops, Twelfth Night 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 and the paperback version will be published in September.

In 2003, Peter Ackroyd was awarded a CBE for services to literature 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.

His 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, while his book Dickens: Public Life and Private Passion was published in 2002 to accompany a three-part BBC TV series.

Originally directed by Patrick Garland, the new production of The Mystery of Charles Dickens will be helmed by Richard Twyman, whose credits include Henry IV Part II (RSC/Roundhouse); Brassed Off (York Theatre Royal); and The Giant by Antony Sher (RSC).

The Mystery of Charles Dickens will be designed by Christopher Woods, with lighting by Nick Richings.

To book, call the box office on 0844 871 7627 or visit