A Tale of Two Cities – It Was the Best of Times!
On Wednesday, 12th of October we went along to watch A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens at the Grand Theatre in Blackpool, which is one of the most beautiful theatres in the country!
Set between London and Paris during the French Revolution, the story tackles personal struggles with an epic story of love, sacrifice and redemption amidst the horrific events that irrevocably changed society forever.
It was our first experience of seeing one of the British literary classics brought to life on stage, and we were a little nervous that we wouldn’t be able to follow cultural references or turns of phrase, but we were put at ease within the first few minutes of the curtain coming up.
It certainly helps to have a rough understanding of the French Revolution though; as the Touring Consortium Theatre Company have ensured historical accuracy and loyalty to Dickens’ favourite of his own novels.
The most charming aspect of this production, we think, is that Blackpool’s Grand Theatre and the Touring Consortium Theatre Company sourced twelve local actors to star in the production of this epic tale, bringing a real sense of community to the show, which is very fitting particularly for the scenes set in France.
One of our local actors said: “I’ve had the time of my life, having the opportunity to work with such talented professional touring actors is a dream”. The actors were sat in the theatre boxes and coming through the audience doors throughout the show which made you feel a greater part of the story.
The novel was written during a really difficult period of Dickens’ life, and it shows. However, you’re made aware of an enduring optimism that most people are generally trying to do the right thing, and will fight to defend the things they value.
The music was a really big part of adding the drama and intensity to this incredibly dark story. The
brilliant standard of the music came as no surprise, as the score was composed by Oscar-winning Rachel Portman. It was loud and left you with your teeth set on edge with suspense throughout most of the show, which fit the story perfectly, but there were also some really moving pieces of music which softened the edges of a pretty violent spectacle.
The sets were also so brilliant; they added lots of depth to the story and were really functional in displaying both indoor and outdoor scenes beautifully.
Two of the actors in particular really stood out for us. Christopher Hunter, who played the judge, marquis, president and French aristocrat was absolutely formidable. The fact that he wasn’t instantly recognisable as playing different characters within a small cast straight away was hugely impressive, and his portrayal of the marquis was brilliant;he really evoked a sense of injustice and venom from us as his character was so hateful.
Joseph Timms played Sydney Carton and he was our star of the show. Without giving too much away, to go through an arc of having such a strong view of him change over the course of the performance was really powerful, and his monologue at the end of the play was so moving. The fact that Joseph was obviously so emotional playing this role made his character’s distress so much more tangible, and we were blown away by his talent.
Whilst this tale is historical, so many of its themes resonate with the audiences of 2016. We can view it against a backdrop of today’s global issues, with the media coverage of citizen protests and regime changes.
We fully recommend giving one of the classics a try – we went home from A Tale of Two Cities feeling really culturally enriched! Catch A Tale of Two Cities is being performed at Blackpool Grand Theatre up to and including Saturday, 15th of October. Tickets are available from www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk or by calling the box office on 01253 290190.