Bong! The Condensed History of Big Ben

     now listen online, courtesy of BBC Radio Four…


‘Bong! The Condensed History of Big Ben’

In honour of Big Ben’s one hundred and fiftieth birthday, Adam Long, Simon Jermond, and Giles Terera blast through everything you ever needed to know about the great bell, clock, and tower. Produced by the magnificent duo of Mandy Baker and Leala Padmanabhan. WARNING: This programme includes a musical tribute to Big Ben’s double three-legged gravity escapement mechanism.


on bbc radio four


condensed george w bush


on bbc radio four website


dickens unplugged photos



design by Lez Brotherston

lighting design by Jon Clark

photos by Jon Clark and Jo Hayes

unplugged theatre on bbc radio four


‘Low budget genius’ Mark Lawson, Pick of the Week, BBC Radio 4

All three episodes of The Condensed History of British Politics can now be listened to on the Radio Four website. Just CLICK HERE

The Condensed Histories were written by Adam Long, feature the vocal genius and musical stylings of Adam Long, Simon Jermond, and Bryan Torfeh, and were produced by the dynamic duo of Mandy Baker and Leala Padmanabhan.



dickens reviews

‘brilliantly bonkers’ london tonight, itv





VARIETY (U.S.A.), 11 JUNE, 2008



DAILY MAIL, Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Patrick Marmion, first night review

DICKENS UNPLUGGED, Comedy Theatre, London

HAVING boiled down Shakespeare, Wagner, and the history of America in the previous two decades, you might reasonably have expected Adam Long to be scraping the barrel with his comedy of reduction.

But no. Despite running nine straight years in the West End with the spoof of Complete Works of Shakespeare alone, Long is back with a new all-American crew that’s fresher and funnier than ever.

This time he’s putting the Cowboy ‘yee ha’ into Charles Dickens and throwing in a bit of Bill and Ted’s ‘wo dude’ too as they turn the Victorian novelist’s life and work into a Californian hoedown.

As far as the old boy’s life goes, it’s an affectionate but not entirely flattering spoof. Having ploughed through many of the novels and several biographies, writer and director Adam Long has got Dickens down to gloriously irreverent detail – ‘fistulas, fistulas, always the fistulas!’ despairs his caustic second wife in the manner of a Jewish mother.

Before that the prolific author is amusingly sent up by Gabriel Vick as an affable but pompous windbag given to whining about his ‘anxieties and sorrows’.

This being Dickens though the characters are even larger than his busy life and it’s with them that the company of iconoclastic yanks have a comic feeding frenzy – whether it be Fagin from Oliver Twist (‘a good hearted Jew with a thing for little boys’) or Nicholas Nickleby (‘don’t mess with him Mister he’s protective of his sister’).

But the pick of them is everybody’s favourite, Ebeneezer Scrooge, acted by Long as a bad tempered Manhattanite in the manner of Alan Alda with a sore head.

All this is interspersed with songs giving one-minute precis of sundry plots on an old curiosity shop of a set. Here the gloriously absurd mismatch between Victorian London and country and western folk music played on bass, banjos, and harmonica generates plenty of thigh-slappin’ comedy.

It all moves too thick and fast and it’s impossible to apportion individual credit, but wisely they save the best till last. And this is a show which gets funnier as it goes along, climaxing in a gospel song ‘Lay Down Charles Dickens’.

Silly? You bet your ass – which is why it’s worth the entrance fee for a Tiny Tim electric guitar solo alone.

DAILY EXPRESS, Tuesday June 10 2008

Paul Callan

CHARLES Dickens is one of our sacred literary figures and sits securely alongside Shakespeare in the iconic line up…But what would he have made of a one hour, 45 minutes (including interval) comic musical that chopped up much of his works into bite-sized chunks? This is Dickens on speed with some of his major novels roared out in frantic time.

Such is Dickens Unplugged – although some might regard this effort as Dickens Unhinged.

For instance, Bleak House rattles by in around 10 seconds, David Copperfield is only a little longer and there is a racing version of A Tale of Two Cities, complete with bloodstained guillotine and severed heads.

Adam Long, who performs in this zany show, is also its writer and director – he was one of the founders of The Reduced Shakespeare Company.

Dickens Unplugged is highly original, fast-moving and witty.

The music, played mostly on stage by the actors, ranges from Joan Baez-style folk to a wicked parody of Lionel Bart’s saccarine musical, Oliver!

There are peeks into Charles Dicken’s life: His obsession with Oliver Twist, and how he enjoyed giving live performances of the scene in which Bill Sikes bludgeons tart-with-a-heart Nancy to death, is given a satirical treatment.

And there is a very funny moment when the author, very sick in his bed, has hallucinations of Sikes, plus his dog (on wheels, no less) and Nancy. All very bizarre…

London Calling

Dickens Unplugged is at The Comedy Theatre, London  (off Leicester Square) 23 May through 29 June 2008.

Cast: Joseph Attenborough, Ben Heathcote, Matthew Hendrickson, Simon Jermond, Adam Long, Bryan Torfeh, Gabriel Vick

Produced by Mark Goucher Limited and Wimpole Theatre in association with The Araca Group, New York, and Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Writer/Director: Adam Long

Designer: Lez Brotherston

Lighting Design: Jon Clark

Co-Director/Casting Director: Alex Jackson-Long

Sound Design: Gareth Owen for Orbital

Production Manager: Igor

Associate Producer: Claudia Ginsburg

Company Stage Manager: Lizzie Chapman

Deputy Stage Manager: Marion Auer

Assistant Stage Manager: Kerry Lynch

Costume Supervisors: Polly Laurence and Jemima Penny

Wigs Supervisor: Sally Tynan

Costumes by Angels The Costumier

Wardrobe Mistresses: Heather Bull and Jo Hayes

Swing Dresser: Gemma Burger

Sound: Tristan Fisher and Lisa Catton

West End Publicist: Katherine Camps at Public Eye

Press and Marketing Officer: Chloe Pritchard-Gordon

Marketing: AKA

Dora’s Wedding Dress made by Kevin Matthias



Published in: on April 16, 2008 at 6:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

some photos…

…courtesy of Jon Clark, our illustrious lighting designer.


the ballad of charlie dickens


mr warren’s blacking factory


the great man himself

set and costume design by Lez Brotherston

Published in: on February 26, 2008 at 7:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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press and reviews from guildford…

British Theatre Guide  (review)

Daily Telegraph (feature)

Independent (feature)

Here’s the review from the Surrey Advertiser

ONE of the many surprises at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre this week is the discovery that Charles Dickens and his creations spoke with American accents.
Dickens Unplugged is the brainchild of Adam Long and its five actors from California call themselves “the biggest CD Tribute Band in Santa Cruz”. A more accurate description would be “Five go adventuring and discover treasure.” As does the audience which enjoys nearly two hours of inspired and surreal silliness.
Starting with an Oliver Twist owing more to Lionel Bart than Charles Dickens we are treated to a musical journey through several books punctuated by snippets from the master’s life, beginning with his work in boot blacking “made by real children” and ending with his death “I’m going home now to have a stroke”.
Bleak House and Great Expectations are despatched in 30 seconds rapid rap while Christmas Carol is given the full treatment with Tiny Tim’s crutch doubling as an electric guitar.
There’s a wonderful scene in which a self-righteous Dickens gives his wife her marching orders and she manages to encapsulate all the resentments of 18 years of less than perfect marriage into one short blistering diatribe.
There’s folk, there’s country and western, there’s rap and harmony. It’s all delivered at breakneck speed. The ladies have trim beards and large feet and Madame Guillotine delivers surprised looking heads into a large basket.
It’s all tremendous fun and Charles Dickens would have loved it. Destined for the West End but you can catch it at the Yvonne Arnaud until tomorrow (Saturday).
Margaret Burgess

Published in: on February 26, 2008 at 4:57 pm  Leave a Comment  


We had a great time in Guildford. Thanks to the audiences for being so fun. Thanks to the staff of the Yvonne Arnaud for making us feel at home.  Thanks to our wonderful cast, esteemed crew, and magnificent production team.  And, of course, thanks again to Charles Dickens for being the greatest writer ever in the history of the universe.


Here’s a cartoon Mia (one of our talented wardrobe mistresses) drew of A Tale of Two Cities – Unplugged Style.  Charles Darnay and Dr. Manette are watching the French aristrocrat run over a small child with his tricycle. The executioner is holding Sydney Carton’s severed head.  Bill Sikes’ dog Bullseye has also managed to find his way into the scene.  And those little figures in the background with the purple and orange hair are Mia and Geri watching from behind the curtain.

Published in: on February 24, 2008 at 3:14 pm  Comments (2)  
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a rehearsal in guildford

the world renowned ‘dementia’ scene


(left to right) Gabriel Vick, Jon Robyns, Joseph Attenborough, Matthew Hendrickson, and Simon Jermond