AUDIENCES might believe that turning out to see big stars perform on nationwide tours is a modern pastime - but back in the 1800s writer Charles Dickens was regularly giving readings for up to 3,000 people at a time on lengthy jaunts around Britain.
As well as reading extracts from his novels, Dickens also developed solo monologues such as the tales of Dr Marigold and Mr Chops, now resurrected by actor Simon Callow nearly 150 years after being written.
Mr Chops tells the story of a dwarf who, thanks to a winning lottery ticket, becomes a member of high society, while Dr Marigold is a dramatic account of a man who adopts a deaf and dumb girl after losing his own wife and child.
Callow remains one of our finest actors, but despite enjoying a successful West End run, it’s mystifying why these pieces have been revived.
Only someone with the most arcane sense of humour could possibly find anything to laugh at - although a small number did chuckle away merrily, presumably having wandered in from the late 19th century.
Callow performs the monologues with enthusiasm and great skill, but they’re really purely of historical interest today.