MAKING A welcome return to the Town Hall Theatre, after a sell out performance last year, is eminent British actor, Clive Francis, with his superb one-man adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
Francis brilliantly performs this festive masterpiece while playing every notable character in the story in a haunting, moving, and wonderfully entertaining performance which The Irish Times described as “fresh, ingenious and enthralling”.
Francis is the first actor since Charles Dickens himself to re-enact the famous inaugural reading of this Yuletide classic which Dickens gave in Birmingham Town Hall on December 27 1853. Francis’s production has now become an annual event in the city with huge audiences gathering each year to see his remarkable interpretation.
Francis first crossed paths with the character of Ebenezer Scrooge while playing the role in Ian Judge’s acclaimed Royal Shakespeare Company production of A Christmas Carol at the Barbican Theatre in 1994 and 1995. This is where the idea of doing a own one-man version began.
“Clive first did the part for the RSC in what was a big, lavish production,” says Irish actor Conor Sheridan, who is producing Francis’s show. “It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime roles so after that production was finished he decided to go back to the book and write his own one-man adaptation.
“You get all of Dickens’ descriptions and details in this 70-minute show. I first saw Clive do it about three years ago in Guildford. I’d heard about the show and was intrigued and I was just really inspired when I saw him play all the characters and do the narration as well. I thought it would be great to bring the show to Ireland so it was from there that I got involved as producer.”
Sheridan reflects on the great reaction the show got in Ireland last year and on the enduring appeal of Dickens’ story.
“We had an unbelievable response when we brought the show over last year,” he says, “it was seen by several thousand people over the two weeks. There were standing ovations after every show. I think its enduring appeal is down to it being a timeless story. Dickens knew what human nature was all about and A Christmas Carol is a story about the human condition. As an actor you go through all the states, there is humour, darkness, it’s very moving, it’s just one of those complete stories that has everything and that’s why people go to see it year after year.”
Clive Francis has enjoyed an illustrious acting career. He made his West End debut in 1966 opposite Donald Sinden in There’s A Girl In My Soup, and his credits since include ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore with Rupert Graves at the National Theatre, Entertaining Mr Sloane opposite Alison Steadman, and Never So Good opposite Jeremy Irons at the National Theatre, and most recently The Madness of King George III in the West End.
He has just completed a new feature film of the life of JW Turner with director Mike Leigh and his many film and TV appearances include Caesar and Cleopatra opposite Richard Burton, The Far Pavilions with John Gielgud, David Copperfield with Ian McKellen, and probably most famously, John the lodger in A Clockwork Orange.
Clive Francis’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol is at the Town Hall on Monday December 9 and Tuesday 10 at 8pm. Tickets are available from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777 and www.tht.ie