IT can be a risky enterprise to rely on one man to perform an entire show on his own.
An actor must have great charisma, skill and gravitas to entertain and engage an audience for two hours.
Simon Callow has all three in abundance, so the dual roles of Charles Dickens’ Dr Marigold and Mr Chops are perfect for him.
“Being in a one-man show has many advantages, communication with the audience being one of them,” he explains.
“It is totally in my hands and they trust me, they give up two hours of their life to me and Charles Dickens.
“I don’t feel that performing alone is pressure as such, it just means I have to be 100 per cent there all the time. It’s very demanding and takes a great deal of planning but I wouldn’t say that I feel pressure on stage.”
Dr Marigold and Mr Chops, which is showing at the Waterside Theatre this week, are two monologues written and originally performed by Dickens.
They tell the stories of Dr Marigold, a travelling salesman who adopts a little deaf and dumb girl, and Mr Chops, a freak-show turn who wins the lottery and a place in society.
Callow is the only actor on stage, so how does he keep himself interested with no-one to interact with?
“It is different every night as it largely depends on the audience and how they respond,” he said.
“Sometimes I get new ideas or find new aspects and whole new vistas open up and that happens almost every performance.”
Callow, who recently played Pozzo in Waiting for Godot and has starred in the Oscar-winning films A Room with a View, Howard’s End and Shakespeare in Love, has a well established relationship with the Victorian author having played him several times on stage and screen.
He has also written a number of articles about his love for Dickens’ work.
“His writing is so generous and funny and compassionate,” he said.
“Dickens was angry about all the things we fell angry about, like social injustice.
“I became fascinated by the man when I did An Audience With Charles Dickens and realised what an altogether exceptional man he was.
“He was active in the world, not just writing, fighting causes and making speeches, but performing as an actor all over the country up to an incredibly high level and was held to be a great actor.
“This is an uncommon lifestyle for an author”
Dr Marigold and Mr Chops is showing at the Waterside Theatre until Saturday, October 22.
For tickets go to www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury