AdaptationDramaNorth East & YorkshireOnlineReview

Oliver Twist: At Home – Leeds Playhouse

Reviewer : Christopher Holmes

Writer: Charles Dickens

Stage Adaptation: Bryony Lavery

Director : Amy Leach

Created with access at its heart this consortium of major theatre companies, made possible by funding from The Arts Council, brings Oliver Twist to life. Devising new work from an old classic Leeds Playhouse, in association with Ramps on the Moon present this collaborative story which is incredibly ambitious aiming to ‘normalise’ disabled actors on stage. The players are right at the heart of the work as they lead the way in inclusive performance. Crossed generations of actors explore diverse theatre together in this dark Dickensian story of hope and the boy who wanted more. Social cohesion and mental well-being becomes a catalyst for this community spirited retelling proving that literally anything is possible in the theatre.

The grey colours reflected in the set and costumes and the low level lighting and haze effects allow us to imagine the conditions of the workhouse. The ensemble, played out like a Greek chorus features a truly diverse cast with varying degrees of disabilities. Integrating sign language, captioning and audio description this online event allows access to a wider community – there’s also some gender-blind casting.

This community project takes on a symbolic power and works hard to bring this message home. This adventurous and bold retelling engages the local community by supporting a wider demographic; “Come with us” – the opening line which is also repeated at the end of the play. One can only commend the actors bravery in this no holds barred approach – this is their true and authentic selves and they make no apology for that as they help pave the way for a bigger presence of disabled actors in leading roles onstage.

One can only root for the actors who are playing out this classic story. Long may the work continue.

Available HERE until 20th November 2021

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Mark Clegg. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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