Two actors conjure A Christmas Carol for Horsham
Jack Lane lives next door to The Capitol in Horsham. For the past 17 years, he’s frequently to be seen there as “technician, front of house… you name it!”
He’s also taken to the stage there with his Norman Wisdom show, Wisdom of a Fool and – alongside David Benson – in the Dad’s Army Radio Show.
Now Jack and David are back, with Jack’s own take on the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol, running in The Capitol’s Studio from December 13-15, from December 17-22 and on Tuesday, December 24.
“Actually, it was going to be a one-man show,” Jack says, “but since I was working with David, I just thought why don’t we do it together. We work really well together and we trust each other on stage.
“We are always generous towards each other. We won’t steal a scene or pull focus while the other is having their moment, and that’s really important. It is a proper partnership.
“I asked David if he would do it with me and he was delighted and accepted and off I trotted and started to try to adapt, but I have kept it very close to the original.
“The first thing I did was sit down and go through the whole novel and pull out all the dialogue.
“And then I had to go right back and try to figure out how a two-man version was going to work.
“And it was during this stage that we decided that David was going to stay as Scrooge throughout.
“He is such a pivotal character with such a wonderful story arc that I just really wanted the audience to latch on to him and to follow him through… so clearly it was better to stay with the same actor rather than him being Scrooge one moment and then switching to another character the next. So David is Scrooge… and I am everyone else!
“I have got about 15 characters to play. There are many more than that but because of keeping the fluidity of it, we wanted to limit it a bit. You will have one character mentioning other characters that you won’t actually see so they will still be in the room with us in a way.”
Inevitably the whole thing will be shaped by the rehearsals.
“We are still trying to work out what works and what doesn’t.
“At the moment it is going to be a pretty classic Scrooge, but everything is born out of rehearsals, and the more we rehearse, the more character traits will come out. The main thing is to have time. It is wonderful to have the time to let it work.
“What makes it such a great story is the story arc of Scrooge’s redemption… and also you have got the underdog in Cratchit. The British always love the underdog!”
Jack is predicting tears. There have certainly been plenty in rehearsals.
“I have commissioned a rod puppet to be made for Tiny Tim.
“I picked him up yesterday, and he is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen… and also the most expensive thing I have ever commissioned! I am sure the audience are going to go for it.
“I wanted to have a puppet for Tiny Tim because I wanted the audience to pick up on the emotion.
“The novel is actually quite graphic. Bob Cratchit goes to see Tiny Tim lying in his bed dead, and we are going to have that in our production. It will be very carefully done, but it will have a huge emotional punch.”