As I entered the concert room at St George’s Hall, I noticed how ornate my surroundings were and thought that this would be the perfect setting for that night’s advertised show, A Celebration of Dickens, the second of the two billed plays that were being performed there that evening, and as I took a seat, I admired the splendour around me while I waited to be entertained.
The event was being presented by Liverpool Media Academy, as part of a series of Christmas concerts that were to be held at the venue, and in the centre of the room, chairs had been laid out in a circle for the audience to sit on, with four benches and a step ladder in front of them in preparation for the first performance, which was called Remote.
This was a forty-five-minute play, which was set in a park. It explored the challenges and issues that teenagers have to face while growing up, and that step ladder was being inventively utilised to represent a tree, which one girl climbs to make a personal protest against the world.
Although it had a serious message, it was an intriguing and humorous piece of theatre, and when it finished, the students were applauded enthusiastically, then the director requested that everyone left the room during the interval, so that it could be prepared for the main show.
When we returned after the break, the benches and ladder had disappeared, and the chairs had been rearranged to face the stage, where the cast stood frozen to the spot, then as the lights went down, the actors, who were all second-year students at Liverpool Media Academy, suddenly sprung into life.
As they effortlessly blended together scenes from some of Dicken’s greatest works, such as Oliver, Great Expectations, David Copperfield and A Christmas Carol, and efficiently merged them back into the show later on with their outcome, it became apparent just how talented the students were. I was amazed by their professionalism and the way that they brought some of the author’s best-known characters to life so brilliantly, and I felt that this was something that I could happily watch at any top theatre in the country.
As well as using the stage, the cast also utilised the auditorium and the circle level up above during the performance. Their portrayal of personalities like Bill Sykes, Nancy, Fagin, Mrs Havisham, Estella, Pip and Scrooge was seemingly flawless and the costumes were authentic.There were also two musicians, a guitarist and a singer, who occasionally accompanied the piece, and their gentle melodies flowed throughout the room as they played in the background.
At an hour long, the production was an extremely well put together, and as I made my way back out into the icy fog on the plateau, I imagined that Dicken’s would have been quite impressed by the tribute, if he had been in attendance that night, and I felt that the students would have certainly done him proud.