Great expectations from one-man show at annual Victorian Festival

By Ariane Brumwell in Community News

THE great-great-grandson of Charles Dickens will be appearing for his fourth year at the 36th Victorian Festival in Llandrindod Wells.

Gerald Dickens, 53, will be performing a dramatic reading from the classic novel about Pip and Miss Havesham, Great Expectations.

He will also be recreating the famous murder scene featuring Bill and Nancy from Oliver Twist, and chatting about his own and Charles’ career.

Gerald has been performing shows since 1993 when he took part in a play for charity based on A Christmas Carol.

He said: “I’ve always been involved in theatre and I’ve always really loved it. A lot of his books are very theatrical and can be adapted really well for the stage. Last year I did a Christmas Carol, which was very peculiar as it was the middle of August. This year I’m doing Great Expectations which I’ve chosen because it’s my favourite. I just think it’s one of his best.”

Gerald, who enjoys touring internationally, performs the shows exactly as his great-great-grandfather did. He tours in America for six weeks every year like Charles, and has recently returned from Italy.

Unlike his great-great-grandfather, Gerald spends a lot of time performing across Wales. He said: “I do enjoy spending a lot of time in Wales, partly making up for the fact that he never visited I think.

“He didn’t have a problem with Wales, he just never got round to performing there.

“He was in Anglesey once in a journalistic way where he wrote an amazing report about a shipwreck called the Royal Charter.”

Gerald said he does not have much of a connection to Charles through the family he knows. Charles, who had 10 children, died at the age of 58 during a time when photography was still new. Due to his celebrity status, all photos and portraits were in the public domain.

Charles apparently judged the success of his performance of the murder scene between Bill and Nancy by the number of people who fainted in the audience, something which Gerald still does today.

David Hawes, from the festival’s friend committee, said: “I think he’s got it in his genes. It’s the way he portrays the characters and their mannerisms. His female characters are just hysterical.”

The one-man theatre show of Great Expectations will last between 90 minutes and two hours in the Royal Albert Theatre at 7pm for £15.

More information about Great Expectations and Gerald Dickens’ other events are available on the Victorian Festival website.

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