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Dickens of a role for Jim McManus

PUBLISHED: 14:40 26 March 2008 | UPDATED: 13:14 11 August 2010

Jim McManus as Charles Dickens

Jim McManus as Charles Dickens

THE CHANCE to get a glimpse into the shady past of London by one of the masters of the English language is on offer in Hornchurch on Monday. Jim McManus will be recreating a tour made by Charles Dickens almost 150 years ago. In one sentence Dickens creat

THE CHANCE to get a glimpse into the shady past of London by one of the masters of the English language is on offer in Hornchurch on Monday.

Jim McManus will be recreating a tour made by Charles Dickens almost 150 years ago.

"In one sentence Dickens creates the modern day equivalent to a major movie," said Jim, who celebrates 10 years of performing the one man show.

"His use of the English language is superb. He used to make up the names of his characters and it is thought to avoid being sued by outraged namesakes.

"That is why the names are outrageous, but they do add to the ambience of his stories."

Jim remembers doing a show on the legendary comedian, Tony Hancock, but a decade ago says he looked in the mirror and thought of the Dickens idea, seeing it as a one man show."

The great man wrote his novels, and then hit on the idea of making more money with a lecture tour," he said.

"He in fact toured the world with his writings, and must have made quite a few bob doing it.

"This is the 150th year and I was thinking to celebrate the anniversary by embarking on a similar tour, but I landed a 10 month contract in the Mousetrap, so the tour could end up as the 151st anniversary tour."

Jim's pedigree is of an actor who has been there, seen it, done it and got the T-shirt.

He played Dumbledore's brother in the film Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and has appeared with Colin Firth and Kristin Scott Thomas in a period film called Easy Virtue which is being released next year.

"The great beauty of Dickens work is it is so compelling.

"His work is challenging for an actor, but it is graphical in descriptions and sets an atmosphere that permeates into the auditorium.

"I can usually tell if it is going well by the number of coughs I get during the recital, which once you have got the audience listening, it is normally just a few."

The emotion created by Dickens in his writing is conveyed to the audience and, according to Jim, the actor as well.

"When I play Christmas Carol, there is one part that gets me every time.

"It's Tiny Tim's 'God bless everyone'.

"I often see parts of the audience dissolving into tears and only just stop myself joining them with a little trick I learnt from an old pro, you curl your toes up in your shoes until they hurt.

"The pain is such that supersedes the emotion. Makes walking a difficult for a few moments though."

Jim is in the Foyer of the Queen's Theatre, Billett Lane on Monday March 31 at 8pm.

He will be reading extracts from Oliver, Bill Sykes and Nancy and another passage from one of his favourite pieces, David Copperfield.

Tickets are £7.50 and available from the box office on 01708 443333.

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