Tale of drugs redemption strikes chord with cast of Birdman play

John Wilkinson performed in 'Ebenezer Dealer' at the Dukes Theatre in Lancaster.
John Wilkinson performed in 'Ebenezer Dealer' at the Dukes Theatre in Lancaster.
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A play starring Morecambe Birdman John Wilkinson as narrator met with a standing ovation.

The audience at The Dukes clapped and cheered the group of troubled people who defied the odds to tread the boards in the play ‘Ebenezer Dealer’.

Pensioner John, known for pushing a trolley around Morecambe full of bird feed for pigeons, was cast in the role of narrator.

Dressed in a waistcoat and tie, and seated in a comfy chair with a side table and lamp, he added a Dickensian-like voice to the performance.

John said afterwards: “I just tell the story, but I’m no Charles Dickens.

“We took a Victorian classic story and gave it a modern twist.

“We all gave it a go and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Most of the performers and backstage crew use the Lancaster and District Homeless Action Service.

They worked with playwright Ian Kershaw to develop the script. Kershaw also wrote the current Dukes Christmas show Cinderella.

Colin, whose roles included the ghost of Marley, said: “It’s been a good laugh.

“I’ve been through drugs but I’ve come out the other end so I know what it’s like to be down there.”

Damian, who asked for his surname not to be printed, took on the role of Bob Scratchit. He was homeless until the service found him a flat.

“They want people to change their ways, just like Ebenezer does,” he said.

“They helped me while I was low down so it’s good to give back.”

The cast of the Alternative Outcomes theatre company also toured the play around homeless centres in the North West.