Tale of Two Cities is one of a series of plays based on Charles Dickens’ books, What the Dickens!
Cast of 15 (30 including crowd in brackets)
Duration: Around 25 minutes
Judge: (To Dr. Manette) I’m afraid he stands convicted by these two, Madame and Monsieur Defarge (pauses) and you!
Dr. Manette: (Gasping) What? What do you mean, me? How can this be?
Judge: Are you or are you not Alexandre Manette?
Dr. Manette: Well, of course, I am. Everybody here today knows that!
Judge: So, can you deny writing (Monsieur Defarge hands letter over to him) this?
(Dr. Manette takes the letter, reads it, gasping as he does so, and then sits down in a state of shock)
Monsieur Defarge: So, enlighten us, Dr. Manette. What have you just read?
(Dr. Manette sits clutching his head, in silence)
Madame Defarge: Fairly conclusive evidence, I’d say!
Judge: So, for the benefit of the court, I will endeavour to explain the contents of this letter. Let’s just start with where it was found.
Monsieur Defarge: In cell One Hundred and Five, North Tower of the Bastille!
(Whole courtroom gasps)
(Sydney Carton jumps up)
Sydney Carton: How can that be? This is false evidence, m’lord!
Monsieur Defarge: Oh, I don’t think so, young man! You may be able to work your lawyer-magic back in England, but not here in France!
Madame Defarge: Justice will be done! You see if it isn’t!
This latest set of scripts, ‘dipping into Dickens’ could be used for upper KSII children (in addition to KS III – as per review below).
I can highly recommend Sue Russell’s plays for use with KS3 students. They are wonderful introductions to classic novels – capturing the mood and tone of the original and communicating the essence of plot and characters in a lively and highly accessible way. Students enjoy the vibrant dialogue and find scope for characterisation and the development of dramatic skills by performing them. These plays can be used in English lessons as well as Drama class. Dickens is a wonderful writer, but the sheer length of the novels and complexity of plot lines can be intimidating for students. Sue Russell’s plays are faithful to their originals yet also brilliantly condensed without any loss of key material.
Many thanks to my writer-friend Jude Hayland who, when not writing, works as drama teacher and English tutor.