Oliver!

August 13, 2016 | By | 1 Reply More

✭✭✭✭✩    Polished

The Famous Spiegeltent (Venue 87): Sat 6 – Mon 15 Aug 2016
Review by Linus West

Everything you want it to be and more, there is little to fault in Captivate Theatre’s adaptation of Oliver! which carries enough energy to overflow from the stage and infect the audience.

This young but rapidly growing company of both professional adult actors and children takes on the classic tale of Oliver Twist, a young boy sold off by his orphanage who soon falls into the company of a band of child thieves in Victorian London.

Oliver, Dodger and Fagin with the gang. Photo: Captivate Theatre

Oliver, Dodger and Fagin with the gang. Photo: Captivate Theatre

Directed by Sally Lyall, this production almost feels like a pantomime – larger than life villains and heroes provide a great family outing. The fast and light-hearted pace throughout most of the show is enough to keep both kids and adults entertained for a solid two hours.

It starts off fast and furious, with an outstanding delivery of Food, Glorious Food by the band of child actors in the roles of orphan children. They are backed up by a perfectionist band, directed by Tommie Travers – more than capable of getting the audience fired up and clapping along with each and every knockout piece they produce, one after the other.

David Bartholomew plays an animated Mr Bumble, the malevolent beadle out to make Oliver’s life a misery, before eventually selling him off.

Cameron Lambert, in the role of Oliver himself (which he alternates with Harry Manson) does everything expected of a child actor. There are next to no slip ups, and he solidly plays an innocent boy who simply speaks his mind. The young orphan soon falls into the slippery hands of Fagin (Charlie Munro), an almost hawk-like classic villain, leading a band of child pickpockets. Munro portrays the role spot-on, an easy boo from the kids in the audience every time he steps on stage.

sign of a rising star

Tom Barclay deserves particular credit as Jack Dawkins, the Artful Dodger (alternating with Alex Gavin). A boy of no more than 12 running around London dressed and acting like a full-grown man, this performance is humorous, charismatic, and a clear sign of a rising star.

However, having been treated to such a rapid pace in both the plot and musical score early on, the production begins runs out of steam towards the end of Act 1. Not much, but enough for it to plateau.

The plot comes to a relative stand-still at this point, and preceded by choruses where two dozen or more actors are bursting with energy, a series of five minute-long solo songs, in which the characters simply contemplate life, gets the audience itching in their seats for something to just happen.

Now and again, the volume or dictation drops too, although this is notably no more the case with the child actors than the adults. However, working like clockwork, they soon pick each other up.

The trust and co-operation in this cast is remarkable; they all play off each other to extraordinary effect – something clearly clicked in rehearsals many months ago.

With enough energy to set the tent on fire, polished actors and rising stars, professional band and a soundtrack executed in all the right ways, Captivate’s Oliver! will simply leave you asking for more…

Running time 2 hours (5 min interval)
The Famous Spiegeltent (Venue 87), St Andrew Square, EH2 1AF
Saturday 6 – Monday 15 August 2016.
Daily: 2:30pm.
Book tickets on the EdFringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/oliver-1
Company website: http://www.captivatetheatre.com
Facebook: captivatetheatre
Twitter: @Captivate_LTD
ENDS

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