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by on 20 March 2023

May We Have Some More

Oliver Jnr

by Lionel Bart

Dramacube, Esher Orange Cast at Cecil Hepworth Playhouse, Walton until 19th March

Review by Heather Moulson

At one time Oliver! was the most successful British musical, and even a junior version seemed an ambitious venture.   So I was intrigued to come to the Cecil Hepworth Playhouse to see the Esher Orange cast, all in their early teens, perform their version, which will be a precursor to versions by younger casts earlier in the spring.  Once again Dramacube did not disappoint.   

Nicely lit by Gary Stevenson, Lizzie Lattimore and Dickson Cossar, Hannah Calarco’s set design was truly atmospheric.  One standard set, comprising a silver bricked bridge with a sinister tunnel, remained effective over Oliver’s adventures.   Greeted by orphans, we were drawn into the well-known Food Glorious Food and the outrage Oliver caused, played subtly by Isla Hickinson, who asked “for more”, leading us nicely into the witty words of Oliver.   Mr Bumble, looking very distinguished and smart, played by Tori Agoro could have been louder, but Widow Corney alias Layla Heather, was truly tyrannical. 

Noah Claypole, the brief catalyst at the funeral parlour, was beautifully played by Liam Fowler and the infatuated Charlotte, played by Jemima Park, was nicely done.  The stage lit up when Oliver encountered his bête noir, the Artful Dodger, slickly played by Grace Young. Dodger had a natural energy and was highly watchable.  Consider Yourself was well staged and vibrant.  Fagan, played by Chloe Ferizolli, was strong but she really needed to face the audience, as sometimes her words were lost.  Otherwise this familiar figure, sympathetic yet rotten to the core, came over well.  Pick a Pocket or Two with its very clever words was a standout number. 

Nancy was played by Florence Bastin, who was strong and tough with a gifted voice.  The poignant It’s A Fine Life and I’d Do Anything were full of energy and the cast excelled.  I also liked Bet, played by Olivia Ferizolli, who was a strong ally to Nancy.  It was a joy to see Liam Fowler once again as Bill Sykes.  Grim and terrifying, he led his scenes.  Mr Brownlow, played by Nicholas Caryer and Mrs Bedwin played by Sophie-Maria Edland-Richens, were sincere and believable.

There were some traces of a lack of projection and an undercurrent of diffidence but that did not stop us being taken along with Oliver, and everyone’s adventures and triumphs. 

The tradespeople at the build-up of Who Will Buy?, and Bumble and Oliver coming through the audience was effective in pulling us into the story.  

The director Matthew Bunn had another triumph on his hands, as did the choreographers and musical directors Rory Cubbon and Heather Stockwell, whose musical numbers were natural and vibrant.  Costumes by Jo Scholes were raggedly authentic and sound by David Gates was well planned. 

There were some songs that could have been used more to their full potential – such Oom-Pah-Pah, but this did not hold back the enjoyment, the energy or the exuberance of this iconic musical.

Heather Moulson, March 2023

Photography by Bomi Cooper

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