Masterly storytelling from one of our best-loved actors

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Review by Hannah Richardson

IF you love a good story, and a good storyteller, there’s still the chance to savour a spellbinding performance from one of Britain’s best-known actors.

Simon Callow may not be a household name but his face is almost certainly one you will recognise from countless film appearances, including A Room with a View, Howard’s End, Four Weddings And A Funeral and Shakespeare In Love.

After opening Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre just over a year ago, he has returned to the theatre this week to present two one-man plays by Charles Dickens.

Dr Marigold And Mr Chops was a sell-out at London’s Riverside Studios, so it was a shame to see the Waterside so sparsely populated on Monday night.

As well as a talented actor, Callow showed himself to be a captivating storyteller.

In the two halves of the show, he tells the separate stories of Mr Chops, a dwarf in a travelling freak show who comes into a fortune when he wins the lottery, and Dr Marigold, a travelling salesman who adopts a little deaf and dumb girl.

Adapted by Patrick Garland, the stories were hugely popular when Dickens himself performed them on his famed reading tours, blending the comic, bizarre and poignant, with Dickens’ special insight into human nature and relationships.

Callow plays his audience with physical energy, expert timing and judgment, moving deftly from comedy to tear-inducing pathos that teeters on the brink of Victorian sentimentality but, thanks to his and Dickens’ expertise, just avoids tipping over into it.

Anyone looking to enjoy an expert telling of a masterly bit of story writing would do well to catch this show, which is at the Waterside until Saturday.

For tickets call 0844 871 7607 or visit www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury