Revolution on its way to Welwyn Garden City theatre

21:30 12 October 2011

A Tale of Two Cities will be performed at the Barn Theatre in Welwyn Garden City

A Tale of Two Cities will be performed at the Barn Theatre in Welwyn Garden City

John Davies

THE French Revolution comes to Welwyn Garden City later this week as the Barn Theatre puts on Charles Dickens classic A Tale of Two Cities.

The stage adaptation of the Dickens novel by playwright Matthew Francis opens at the Handside Lane theatre on Friday and runs until Saturday, October 22.

A Tale of Two Cities starts with London in the 1700s.

The filth and poverty form the background for the thieves and the fog-camouflaged highwaymen who make life for most full of suspicion and fear.

Then the tale crosses the Channel to Paris where the French Revolution is brewing and then explodes…

It’s an epic story of cruelty, blood and revenge balanced by affection, love and sacrifice.

Madame Defarge personifies evil as she sits knitting, waiting for the tumbrils to roll by bringing prisoners to be guillotined.

In contrast, we have the sweet blonde daughter of Dr Manette, the man who had been a prisoner in the Bastille for 18 years. Lucie is hoping for the release of her aristocratic husband.

It’s a complicated tale to successfully portray on stage.

There are 34 scenes for a start and the drama is complex, having many different facets.

English and French accents are required by cast members playing two roles and the numerous locations take place in London and Paris and travel in between.

An initial problem was to also find two men who could be made-up to resemble each other.

Sydney Carton, the dissolute English barrister, must look like the French aristocrat Charles Darnay since the former takes his place in the Bastille prison.

Director Coral Walton said: “We use movement and sound, physical means as well as speech to convey the story.

“It will require the audience to participate, to use their imagination in order to fully experience the play.”

However, don’t imagine when you hear the sound of the guillotine coming down that it’s chopping off a human head – it’s actually cutting a cabbage!

Evening performances are at 8pm, with an additional matinee on Saturday, October 22 at 2.30pm.

Tickets cost £10 and they are available online at www.barntheatre.co.uk – click on link above right; by telephone on 01707 324300 from 9am to 7pm Monday to Saturday; and in person or by telephone between 7pm and 9pm on show nights.

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