THE great-great grandson of legendary author Charles Dickens is set to play the lead role in an adaptation of one of his best-loved works.
Gerald Dickens will bring the kind of passion and intimacy only a relative can as he takes to the stage at Gloucester Guildhall for festive favourite, A Christmas Carol.
In a year which marks two centuries since the birth of the Victorian novelist, Gerald will play more than 26 roles as the audience is transported to the infamous world of Ebenezer Scrooge as he searches for redemption when faced with eternal misery.
Since being cast as a cockerel in a school nativity play at the age of nine, Gerald caught the theatre bug and has never wanted to do anything else with his life.
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"My father took on the onerous task of creating my costume with Dickensian flair, with the result being that the cockerel towered above all of the other farmyard animals, causing a nervous giggle throughout the audience," he said.
"Although I never took formal training, I've always been involved in some form of theatre.
"It's an extraordinary feeling to be performing A Christmas Carol and the main emotion is pride. I don't see myself as continuing his legacy for he hardly needs any help in that respect, but it's amazing to see the passion that people still have for his works."
When Gerald first performed A Christmas Carol in 1993, it was a reading, in the same way Charles had read on his tours in the 1860s: "So I used his script which he'd edited to approximately 90 minutes," said Gerald.
"The show progressed quickly from a reading to a full one-man dramatisation, so I've tweaked the script here and there but always using Dickens' own words from the original.
"The great thing about A Christmas Carol is that everybody knows the plot, so the entire audience feels a part of the story.
"It's a great deal of fun."
Gerald first toured the USA in 1995 where A Christmas Carol is a central part of the festive season, and has become a regular fixture in the theatrical calendar ever since.
"Every city or town I travel to will be having some form of celebration based on the story. On the day after Thanksgiving I was present at a huge festival in North Carolina, encouraging people to shop in the main street area, instead of the out-of-town shopping malls.
"The Americans respond to British tradition, so what better theme than a Dickens Holiday Fair? "Every community will see a theatrical production of the story, be it a professional company or a community theatre or a school. "The audiences feel that Christmas hasn't started until they've seen a production."
Gerald Dickens will perform A Christmas Carol on Sunday, December 23 at Gloucester Guildhall.
Tickets cost £12.50 for adults and £9, concessions, from 01452 503050.
â Read the full interview in The Buzz on Friday, December 21.