Reviewed by Janice Bailey
David Lampard has assembled a strong cast of performers who bring Dickens’ characters to life in this return season of Oliver. It is a smooth transition into the Victorian era of cruelty and mistreatment of children. The old adage of never working with children or animals is never more apparent – the children are the ‘stars’ – as indeed they should be! This group of enthusiastic, talented young people have been well-schooled in performance and this translates to the audience in abundance. The future of music theatre is in capable hands as these young people grow. A huge ‘well done’ to every young performer on the stage on Friday night!
The set design by David Lampard is original, creative and of continual interest without being intrusive or distracting. The use of video projection designed by Mark Wickett was extremely effective. Lighting and sound worked well without an apparent technical hitch, including the very competent orchestra under the direction of Peter Johns. The costumes, in keeping with the era, are a credit to the hard-working costume department. The story and music of Oliver are so well known that we as an audience have an expectation of certain elements. Overall the cast doesn’t disappoint. Rod Schultz plays a suitably sleazy Fagin with flair while Paul Talbot’s Bill Sykes is effectively nasty. Emma Bargery plays a younger than usual Nancy with enthusiasm and cheekiness but doesn’t invoke the sympathy usually given to her tragic end. Isaiah Fabbro as the Artful Dodger and Harry Fiedler as Oliver Twist are wonderful in their respective roles. A thoroughly enjoyable show. Don’t miss it.