THE audience at the Arts Centre last night may have been small, but it was perfectly formed.

Just a handful of people took their seats in the auditorium to see Scary Little Girls perform their literary cabaret celebrating the work of Charles Dickens.

But those who weren’t there missed out on plenty of oompah-pah-ing, cockney knees up frolics and even a game of pass the parcel. What more could you ask for from a single hour?

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Victorian writer, whose stories have entertained generations upon generations.

Greeting the small group of literature fans, corset-clad compere for the evening, Monika de Plume, announced very theatrically that the event would ‘share their great love of Charles Dickens’.

This was a bit different from your normal Lit Fest fare as there was no book to plug and no author to ask questions of at the end of the session. And if there had been, it would have given a few people a big shock given that Mr Dickens has been dead some 142 years.

Within seconds of the lights going down members of the audience had been pulled to their feet to get involved in the show, and that carried on for the rest of the evening with hats being doled out, having to carry out dance routines and one gentlemen even called up to act as a music stand.

Whether you learned something about the writer shunning his wife in favour of his younger mistress or took away some of the salient facts from the ‘street’ version of Dickens, there was something for everyone.

One of the most interesting points for me was learning that Dickens rewrote Nancy’s murder scene in Oliver Twist as part of an extensive speaking tour he did in America and the UK.

It was later reported that his children believed the toll of delivering the brutal scene for the audience contributed to the demise in his health and quite possibly, was also a factor in his death in 1870.

This was definitely not a heavy going, fact-laden hour about Dickens, his life and his loves, but it was fun, informative and above all, good for a laugh – and definitely worth popping along to see if the Scary Little Girls return again.