Cricket on the Hearth - A delicious period piece


Cricket on the Hearth
Presented by Fanshawe Pioneer Village
Written by Charles Dickens
Adapted by Jason Rip
Directed by Jeff Culbert
Cast;  Jessica Ducharme as Dot Peerybingle, Sam Shoebottom as John Peerybingle, Latisha Laing as Tilly Slowboy, Conor Walton as The Stranger, Doug Kerr as Caleb Plummer, Erin Flanagan as Bertha Plummer, Josh Cottrell as Mr. Tackelton, Jacqueline Peter as May Fielding, Karen Try – Cricket/Musician

December 1, 7, 8, 14 & 15
If you are looking for that ‘Christmas spirit’, it’s at Fanshawe Pioneer Village, where the dinner-show Cricket on the Hearth is now playing.  

After a short but lovely walk from the parking area through a wooden gate and along the lantern-lit path past historic village buildings, you will be met by the smell of hot apple cider and delicious things being prepared for your authentic Christmas dinner of the Dickensian period. Tiny Tim was wrong. The Cratchet’s did not have the best goose ever – Pioneer Village has it! Also, (please forgive me Grandma!) the chef’s plum pudding is to die for!

Cricket on the Hearth is one of five of Charles Dickens’ ‘Christmas books’ (the most famous being A Christmas Carol). First released in 1845, this adaptation of the novel is as fresh and lively as the chirps of the title’s cricket. Having a cricket in one’s home was thought to be good luck, and the home of the Peerybingles has just this blessing. John and Dot Peerybingle have a May/September romance, with John being considerably older than Dot, but their love and devotion to each other is apparent from the beginning. The same cannot be said of the impending nuptials of wealthy toymaker Alec Tackleton and his much younger bride to be, May Fielding. Mr. Tackleton brags that he ‘can afford’ the extravagance of taking a young and pretty wife, and expects only obedience and service in return for providing her with some of the luxuries of life. May, for her part, remains heart -broken over the disappearance of the love of her life (the son of Caleb Plummer, who is rumoured to have died in the jungles of South America).  Having lost hope of marrying for love, she has agreed to marry the unpleasant Mr. Tackleton.  

Then a stranger comes to town…

Historic Pioneer Village lends a pastoral atmosphere to the setting that transports us back to Dickens’ time. With the exception of The Stranger’s beard (Santa called and he wants it back), costumes faithfully reflected the times, the character’s personalities, and position in life. Although the acoustics in the building were very good, the cast were also clear and easy to hear from anywhere in the room.  

Jessica Ducharme gave an excellent performance as the cheerful, loving, but no-nonsense Dot Peerybingle. Big voices and big personalities sometimes come in small packages. Latisha Laing was very funny as Tilly. Erin Flanagan’s portrayal of Caleb Plummer’s blind daughter was incredible. When she fell, several audience members almost leapt from their seats to help her!   

Snidely Whiplash has nothing on Josh Cottrell as Mr. Tackleton. Wonderfully evil - utterly lacking in any redeeming qualities, Cottrell plays Mr. Tackleton as the archetypal Villain.  So much fun!

A delightful little comic tale of love, redemption, and toasted crickets, Cricket on the Hearth is heartwarming, cheerful family entertainment, perfect for the Christmas season.

/  4

Jamie-Lee Wilson is a mild mannered Project Manager by day and crime fighter by night (if you consider teenage children who spend their time watching reality T.V. and eating Kraft dinner and wieners a crime). She grew up in Toronto where she attended York University. Jamie moved to London in search of cheaper parking.



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