On the 9th of August 2012, the first performance of Barnaby Rudge was staged at the Kings Theatre, Southsea, by Alchemy Theatre. This was the culmination of several years work by Eileen Norris who had successfully turned the book into a stage play.
The action of the play takes place between the years 1750 and 1780. It shifts rapidly between the Maypole Inn, Chigwell, the surrounding countryside, the city of London, Westminster and the Golden Key and the home in Clerkenwell, of Gabriel Vardon, the Locksmith of London.
The original Alchemy theatre group was formed thirty years ago, rehearsing and performing in Bedhampton Community Centre. Amongst many other things, part of its repertoire included excerpts from Dickens which were often presented around Christmas at the Portsmouth City Museum. In 1996, Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop, adapted by Eileen Norris, was performed in the unconventional setting of St. Agatha’s Church in Portsmouth for the International Conference of the Dickens’ Fellowship.
With so few venues for epic theatre in Portsmouth, the production team was immensely grateful for the offer of an association with the Kings Theatre Trust enabling the staging of Barnaby Rudge in the city of Dickens’ birth, in his bicentenary year, 2012. We were grateful for help in kind but despite our efforts, we could find no major sponsor, however we still succeeded in making a profit.
Below are pictures from the Kings Theatre Production