A 'sexy, gritty' Tale of Two Cities

"THERE are no problems, only solutions," director Adam Spreadbury-Maher says when asked about the challenges of bringing Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities to life.

The production based on the adaptation by Terence Rattigan and John Gielgud was cut down from four hours into a slick two and half hour package. And then there's that issue of the 30 different characters.

Easy. Just get the cast of nine actors to play multiple roles.

"This is a celebration of what theatre has to offer," Mr Spreadbury-Maher said.

"That's the difference between theatre and film. The audience plays an active role in the performance; it's a celebration of their imagination and intelligence."

This production of A Tale of Two Cities reimagines dangerous and doomed antihero Sydney Carton (played by Calen Robinson) as part of the 27 club. The same club whose members include Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse, all dead at age 27.

An East London aesthetic replaces the former French Revolutionary setting.

"It's a true adaptation of the novel so the people who know and love it, will enjoy it," Mr Spreadbury-Maher said.

"And for those who are completely new to Dickens, it's a lovely moving introduction. It's a very modern production. It's sexy, gritty and frenetic."

The in-house play is the Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre's 2014 season opener and features a cast of Queanbeyan and Canberra actors. It will have a two-week run from Wednesday, February 5.

Mr Spreadbury-Maher has directed the show twice in London, where he is now based, and returned to oversee the play's Australian premiere.

The former-Canberran said he had been in talks with The Q's program director Stephen Pike to stage something at the venue. That opportunity arose in the form of this production.

"We were waiting for the planets to align ... and here we are. Stephen was there helping me when I directed my first play in 2004. He's been instrumental to my success, he's been a mentor," Mr Spreadbury-Maher said.

"This is a unique opportunity for me ... this is a new production in a new city, new country with a new cast.

"This isn't a revival but a brand new production and that's exciting. As much as I'm familiar with the play and story, it's also about wiping the slate clean and creating something new."

A Tale of Two Cities will be at The Q from February 5 - February 16. Tickets can be purchased by calling 6285 6290 or visiting www.theq.net.au.

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