On Tuesday I was delighted to be invited to see Oliver!, the story of an orphan who runs away to join a gang of pickpockets in London, at Curve theatre in Leicester and I took my sister along with me because she loves the classic tale as much as I do.
I, like many others, am someone who grew up watching the 1968 adaptation of Oliver! every single Christmas. Thanks to my love of the novel by Charles Dickens, and to my love of the film adaptation, I’ve always been hesitant to watch any stage adaptation because of my high expectations. In contrast, my sister had so such reservations and has previously been to see the West End adaptation of the show. Therefore, she really did have a high standard, in terms of quality theatre adaptations, to compare Curve’s efforts to.
When we entered Curve, it was evident to see how universal the tale of Oliver was because there was a great mix of people in the foyer. Also, near the Ticket Office, you could hear the sound of galloping horses, which was a nice touch and sort of set the scene before the audience had even taken to their seats. It actually made me feel like I had walked into an interactive installation or something!!
Anyway, once we found our seats, I was able to fully appreciate the set up inside the auditorium. The sound of the galloping horses sounded slightly louder here and the stage looked dark, smoky and mysterious, which only served to increase my excitement.
The show kicked off with the much-loved ‘Food, Glorious Food‘, which was choreographed really well and held the whole audience’s attention throughout. I thought it was a great way to begin!! I love it when there are loads of people on stage because it just gets the whole audience pumped and excited – okay, it gets ME pumped and excited!!
The whole cast performed brilliantly, specifically the little kids who really were especially fantastic. However, the stand out performers for me were the actors who played Oliver, Nancy and the girl who was the first to sing in the song ‘Who Will Buy?‘. The actor behind the character of Oliver had such a beautiful and innocent kind of voice – dare I say that it sounded somewhat angelic?!
The girl playing Nancy, the ‘tart with a heart’, really blew me away. She was feisty, energetic, charismatic and innocent, and she had a great voice that was stunningly showcased in ‘As Long As He Needs Me‘ and ‘Oom Pah Pah‘. Her take on the character of Nancy was exactly how I envisaged Nancy to be.
Most of my favourite parts of the show were the show tunes, specifically ‘Who Will Buy?’. The girl that was the first to sing had the most beautifully haunting voice, which totally captivated me whenever she sang. I was also super impressed with the harmonies of the four singers who started off singing the song first, before the rest of the actors joined in. Seriously impressive stuff!!
I also really loved the performance of ‘You’ve Got To Pick A Pocket Or Two‘ because of Fagin and the orphans, one of whom was so tiny and adorable. I’ve always thought of Fagin as being a much darker character, but I’ve noticed that he’s been more comedic in most of the adaptations that I’ve seen and was only really dark in the original novel.
I also thought that Mr Bumble could have been a bit more scary, especially considering the young orphans are meant to be extremely fearful of him. However, Kieran Sutcliffe has a great voice and I liked his jovial portrayal of the character nonetheless.
The only criticism I have of the show is that Act II didn’t seem as strong as Act I, with a lot of audience members getting lost when everything kicked off on stage towards the end of the show. The girl sitting next to me was quite baffled, and had I not been so familiar with the story, I probably would have been confused as well. I think the second Act just seemed rushed, with Oliver sidelined more than I feel he should have been.
Visually the show was amazing and, according to my sister, it was similar set up to the West-End adaptation. I loved how the stage was easily transformed, with a lot of detail (hanging clothes, a mini London Bridge, the basement with the coffins, etc) going into each stage change. Plus, I loved how the depth of the stage was taken full advantage of, particularly in Act II. Oh, and the lightening really helped change and create different atmospheres. My sister and I were really impressed!!
All in all I would give this Curve Community Production a massive thumbs up because it impressed me a lot, which is definitely saying something because I had such high expectations from the onset. I thought the amount of effort, in terms of staging, costumes, lighting, etc, was incredible. However, I was most impressed with the cast, who were all from across Leicester and Leicestershire – Go Leicester locals!!!
For more information or to book tickets for this show (or any other), please visit Curve’s website by clicking HERE.