Director: Tony Adigun
Choreographer: Tony Adigun
Reviewer: Georgie Bird
Fagin’s Twist, as the title suggests, is a modern interpretation of Oliver Twist, told through dance. Performed by the Avant Garde Dance Company, this production focuses on Fagin and his story, instead of Oliver’s. This is comprised of some brilliant dance routines, wonderfully choreographed and utilising the whole cast. The dancing throughout is skillful and energetically delivered by a talented cast.
From the start, the stage comes alive with a score of dancers twisting and turning to loud electronic music, that mimics the sound of factory machines. After the electrifying group dance, the stage is left to Dodger to introduce himself. Played by Aaron Nuttall with charisma and wit, he acts as a narrator throughout the play. His dancing is captivating and keeps the audience thoroughly engaged. He particularly excels in a breakdance segment, which illustrates the tussles and struggles of his pocket pinching schemes.
Throughout the first act, the lighting on the stage is minimal; the dancers flit across the stage like shadows. This combined with the atmospheric music and sparse staging convincingly recreate the feel of a workhouse. There are some brief comedy moments, although some of these had a tendency to fall somewhat flat.
The first half focuses mainly on the story of Fagin, played animatedly by Arran Green. He perfectly encapsulates the troubled, morally conflicted young man who is desperate to escape the poverty-stricken world he finds himself in. His lively interactions with the other characters, especially with Bill Sykes are a joy to watch.
The dialogue throughout the first half is minimal – the energetic musicality of the dancing tells the story. However, the lack of dialogue does make the story hard to follow. At times, it can be hard to tell who is speaking – it is unsure if this is done deliberately or not. Some of the dialogue rhymes, which distracts from the narrative, having a dulling effect on the performance
The dancing in the first act – while slickly choreographed and gripping to watch – at times seems gratuitous. More dialogue would enable the characters to flourish, and serve more purpose than some of the repetitive routines, which although well executed, seem to drag.
Oliver is a background character for most of the show, introduced to the audience at the end of the second half. Fitting with this production, Oliver is played by a girl. The character is reversed from the Oliver we know and love. He is played as manipulative and power hungry; his rise to power is displayed perfectly through the choreography at the end of the play.
The second half starts with a brief recap by Dodger, who talks energetically to the audience. This half of the show is dialogue heavy, with Fagin being given an angst driven monologue. He writhes and agonises under a literal spotlight, over the responsibility of having to provide for the children in the workhouse. While this is well acted by Arran Green, the monologue feels out of place in such a non-verbal play.
The second act seems to rush to a conclusion. There is not much time to get to know Oliver, which makes it harder to accept this greedy and manipulative version, or at least to understand his motives. However, the character is well played by Sia Gbamoi.
Whilst not perfect, this is a show that all the family will enjoy. It is a brave and ambitious retake on a modern classic. This show is a great way to introduce a new audience to Oliver Twist – especially those who associate Dickens with dull English lessons.
Runs until 12th November 2018 | Image: Rachel Cherry