Just when you might have thought the rush of 200th anniversary Dickens events had subsided, possibly the last one of the year hoves into view in the shape of Cambridge Touring Theatre's Nick Ellis who will be performing his one man show of Hard Times at Herstmonceux Castle in the middle of December.
Nick is an enthusiastic fan of Charles Dickens and particularly of the novel Hard Times. His theatre project first began as fifty gouache and line paintings for an Illustrated Hard Times book that he created and published. Those paintings now also form the basis of the handmade animation which backs Nick's performance, together with his own musical compositions. He becomes the many voices of Dickens' characters as he tells their story over ninety minutes.
Written in 1854, Hard Times is still as reflective of our contemporary society as the National's Timon Of Athens was a few weeks ago. The story is set in the fictitious Coketown, a generic Northern English mill town (perhaps based on Preston) where the mill owners are getting richer and richer at the expense of their badly treated workers who are forced into poverty. Dickens had visited factories in Manchester in the late 1830s and been horrified by the conditions workers endured. This novel was the "heaviest blow in my power" against the inhumanity of the mills.
Herstmonceux Castle, Sun 16th Dec, 19:30.
Tickets £15 (£12 concessions), available by calling 01323 834479.
Pre-performance Christmas Dinner also to be offered with the chance to meet Nick Ellis after the show. Call 01323 834479 for further details of this option.