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Oliver ! Jr

by on 8 May 2023

Mellow Yellow

Oliver! Jr

by Lionel Bart

Dramacube Productions, Twickenham Yellow Cast at Hampton Hill Theatre until 7th May

Review by Heather Moulson

With director Matthew Bunn’s huge cast and an ambitious musical, we looked forward to this production of Oliver! Jnr performed by Hampton Hill’s Yellow Cast.

With the standard silver bricked set, its centrepiece a sinister tunnel, the cast opened up with the exuberant Food Glorious Food.  The orphans of the workhouse were all credible with good voices and their black and white tattered attire.  Oliver, played by Imogen Logan, despite initial reticence, became fiery and engaging.  Oliver’s wistful song Where Is Love? and the moody lighting made the undertaker’s scene atmospheric.  Not to mention the formidable Mr Bumble, played beautifully by Wilf Perkins.

Hannah Kuhnel, was highly convincing as the provocative bully Noah Claypole, who got his just desserts.  As indeed was the Artful Dodger, played by Rosie Samuel, who scouted the homeless orphan Oliver.  Both had strong stage presence and were comfortable in their roles.

Ayush Jethwa was extraordinarily watchable as Fagan.  Conveying humour and communication with the audience, in his famous hanky strewn coat.  I look forward to seeing more of him.  Bill Sykes, played admirably by Ethan Parker was monumental and commanded the stage with menace.   Ethan is a promising actor.

Elsie Ellis played a cheeky and forthright Nancy with a subtext of passion.  Bet, her sidekick, played by Albi Best, was gutsy.  Despite her desperations, Nancy had a real sense of fun. Her gruesome end, set to tense music and eerie lighting, was also well-crafted.  The atmospheric and sinister lighting by Gary Stevenson, Lizzie Lattimore and Dickson Cossar was effective and well-designed throughout, and complemented by David Gates’ tense sound track.

Fagin’s den seemed a little overcrowded, but that did not spoil the bonhomie between the pickpockets, The Artful Dodger naturally being the prize pupil. 

Oom-Pah-Pah was a very strong number, matched by Consider Yourself, and Pick A Pocket Or Two.  Who Will Buy could have benefited from more of the cast, but Lionel Bart’s iconic songs were vibrantly staged and choreographed by Rory Cubbin and Heather Stockwell, who also led the flawless musical direction.

As the chips were down, Fagin’s violin parody in Reviewing The Situation was flawless and done with great satire.  We appreciated the unusual turn of “the law is an idiot”but yearned for the original “the law is an ass”.  However, it was put over very well from the impressive and frustrated Mr Bumble, and it was an insightful move.

Overall, a strong production directed by Matthew Bunn, set well designed by Hannah Calarco, who had the ingenious idea of sad looking washing on a line on top of an already striking set. Costumes of random scarves and caps and rags were thought out with insight by designer Jo Scholes. 

Well done to all the Yellow cast.  We hope to see you again soon.

Heather Moulson, May 2023

Photography by Simone Germaine Photography 

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