Aug 10 2017 | By More

★★★★☆  Marvellous

Rose Theatre (Venue 76): Thurs 3 – Sun 27 Aug 2017
Review by Dylan Taylor

Bringing Oliver! back to the Fringe at the Rose Theatre, Captivate Theatre brilliantly capture the drama and comedy of the classic musical.

Based on Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, Lionel Bart’s musical follows the adventures of the titular orphan, who, after a series of escapades, finds himself falling in with the wrong sort.

Charlie Munro as Fagin

After a lively rendition of Food, Glorious Food, the troubles of young Oliver soon begin. The first half can be slow-going, and the plot takes a bit of time to pick up. Once the second half rolls around, however, the play’s strongest moments keep the action steadily moving.

Alexander Fraser does a solid job playing up Oliver’s stoic innocence. He serves well as the centrepiece around which the other characters revolve. David Bartholomew lends a humorous strictness to the stern Mr Bumble, who acts as Oliver’s first obstacle. Sarah-Louis Donnelly, too, playing the widow Mrs Corney, is particularly humorous in a scene in which she stands up to Mr Bumble, slapping him angrily in the face.

After leaving the orphanage, Oliver meets a boy known as the Artful Dodger, a gentlemanly street urchin played with a confident swagger by Alex Gavin. The Artful Dodger, Oliver soon learns, steals for a living as part of Fagin’s pocket-thieving gang.

Charlie Munro gives a truly excellent turn as the crafty Fagin, breathing life into the character with both his voice and his appearance. Leering from side to side, and with a cold and crisp delivery, Munro embodies the role with perfect villainy. His long, frantic, powerful rendition of Reviewing the Situation is the production’s most outstanding and memorable moment, and is as good as anything to be found in a professional production.


Meg Laird-Drummond gives an enchanting performance as Nancy, the compassionate girlfriend of Bill Sykes. Her remarkable solo performance of As Long As He Needs Me allows her powerful singing voice to take centre stage, and showcases her skill. Her more dramatic moments, too, demonstrate her range as an actress.

Playing the part of villain, Sykes, John Bruce brings a perfectly dastardly energy to his role. His voice booms across the stage with articulate rage, and his first scowling appearance in his performance of My Name is another of the play’s great scenes.

The climax of the show is well handled and, with the use of the entire room, demonstrates the inventiveness of Captivate’s production team.

Sandy Queenan is solid as Oliver’s benefactor, Mr Brownlow, despite a few moments in which he seems to accidentally slip from an English to Scottish accent. The rest of the supporting cast do much to contribute to the vibrancy of the production.

The band plays well for the most part, although the instruments are at times off-key or out-of-tune.

The staging is at a consistently high quality. The arrangements of the actors during musical numbers such as Who Will Buy? add a layer of colour to the play’s overall tone. Sally Lyall’s direction brings energy and careful thought to each scenario, making the play as a whole great fun to watch.

Oliver! has clearly been taken seriously by Captivate Theatre, and it shows. The cohesion with which everything fits together make this a smooth and gripping performance, and one that has something to offer all ages.

Running time: 2 hours.
Gilded Balloon at Rose Theatre, 204 Rose Street, EH2 4AZ (Venue 76)
Thursday 3 – Sunday 27 Aug 2017
Thurs 3 – Mon 14: 4.45pm; Sat 19/Sun 20 & Sat 26/Sun 27: 11.30am.
Tickets and details: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/oliver

Company website: http://www.captivatetheatre.com
Facebook: captivatetheatre
Twitter: @Captivate_LTD


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