Written by Lionel Bart
Performed by Staffordshire Stage Productions
Review by Janine Forster and Daisy Cartwright for A View To A Kiln
Set against the vibrant backdrop of Victorian London, the stage production of Lionel Bart's Oliver, performed by the talented bunch at Staffordshire Stage Productions, delivers a powerful and emotionally-charged experience that resonates with audiences of all ages. The talented cast, intricate set design, and impressive choreography combine to create a captivating performance that brings the beloved classic to life.
From the first note of the overture, the audience is transported into the gritty streets of London. The attention to detail in the set design is exquisite, with dilapidated buildings, atmospheric lighting, and hidden alleyways that capture the essence of the era. The seamless scene transitions and clever use of props make for a visually stunning production, adding depth and dimension to the storytelling.
The standout element of this adaptation is the extraordinary cast. In the role of Oliver Twist, young actor Jayden Kay brings a remarkable vulnerability and innocence, captivating the audience with his poignant portrayal of the protagonist. Jayden's flawless angelic singing voice adds an additional layer of charm to his performance.
The supporting cast members are equally exceptional. The talented ensemble fills the stage with energy and enthusiasm, delivering rousing musical numbers such as "Consider Yourself" and "Oom-Pah-Pah" with exuberance and precision. The chemistry among the actors is palpable, making each interaction feel genuine and heartfelt.
One cannot mention this production without applauding the impeccable choreography. The dance sequences are executed with precision and grace, enhancing the overall theatrical experience. The choreography seamlessly melds traditional dance styles of the era with more contemporary movements, creating a visually striking and engaging spectacle.
The costume design adds authenticity and character to the production, with meticulously crafted period costumes that reflect the socioeconomic disparities of Victorian London. The attention to detail in each costume choice, from the ragged clothing of the orphans to the lavish attire of the upper class, showcases the dedication and creativity of the production team.
While the majority of the performance is filled with lighthearted moments and spirited musical numbers, the production doesn't shy away from exploring the darker themes present in the story. The powerful rendition of "Who Will Buy?" evokes a profound sense of empathy for the disadvantaged members of society, while the climactic confrontation between Oliver and the infamous Fagin, played with gritty charm by Craig Armstrong, leaves the audience on the edge of their seats. A powerful performance of "As long as he needs me" by Nancy played by Kayleigh Ann Strong was also a stand out moment of the play.
In conclusion, this stage production of Lionel Bart's Oliver is a triumph, capturing the spirit and heart of the original story. With its exceptional cast, stunning set design, impressive choreography, and attention to detail, this adaptation delivers an unforgettable theatrical experience. Whether you're a fan of the classic tale or experiencing it for the first time, this production is sure to leave you entertained and moved by its timeless themes of hope, resilience, and the power of compassion. We also need to mention last but not least the cute peformance of the character Titch, he truly stole the show!
Oliver by Staffordshire Stage Productions is at the Regent Theatre, Hanley until Saturday 21st October 2023.