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Oliver! Jr

by on 12 May 2023

Dance, Music and Much More!

Oliver! Jr

by Lionel Bart

Dramacube Productions, Twickenham Green Cast at Hampton Hill Theatre, until 7th May 2023

Review by Sadie Williams

It may have been their final performance, but this young cast of 8-12-year-olds certainly showed no signs of complacency.  The wit and entertainment of this piece was conveyed with expert direction from seasoned performer and director Matthew Bunn, and he didn’t waste a moment as we were treated to a menacing, Cockney, pre- show announcement, threatening that we’d be “brown bread” if we didn’t turn off our electronic devices.  We’d been warned!

The heavy deep red curtains on the Hampton Hill stage opened to reveal Hannah Calarco’s impressive set.  We were transported initially to a bleak, oppressive orphanage and then to a dreary grey Victorian London.  Combined with atmospheric lighting from Gary Stevenson and Lizzie Lattimore and effective sound and music from David Gates the scene was set.

We immediately met with a group of sorry looking, malnourished orphans (nicely costumed by Jo Scholes), who despite their drab appearance, lit up the stage with a well-rehearsed and neatly choreographed (Rory Cubbin) opening number Food Glorious Food.  It wasn’t long before Oliver (Mathis De Bonnieres) presented himself, stepping forward and daring to utter those famous words “Please sir, can I have some more?”

Upon arriving in London, Oliver is sold onto an undertaker where he discovers the grass isn’t always greener.  The protagonist of this famous story has a determination for survival, but his vulnerability was clear for all to see as he sat perched on a coffin and sang Where is Love,leaving not a dry eye in the house.

It isn’t long before Oliver makes his escape and meets the acquaintance of the plucky Artful Dodgy (Poppy Preedy) who swiftly offers the homeless new arrival lodgings with the kindly Fagin portrayed so well by Greta Frasson. 

This was truly an ensemble production with every young actor giving their all to entertain and delight us, as we whizzed through Dickens’ classic story. 

The stage was filled with talented actors, dancers and singers who impressed us throughout.  But every show should have a wow moment and this undoubtedly belonged to Clara Brueggemann who played Nancy.  Her crimson dress brilliantly contrasted against the grey London backdrop, but this wasn’t all that made this immensely talented young performer stand out.  Her delivery of Oom-Pah-Pah roused us, as the raucous tavern where she worked burst into song, but it was her rendition of As Long As He Needs Me which truly moved us all.   

Dramacube students were clearly loving every moment of their production, set in Victorian London, and will no doubt have equal measures of fun in their next show which will be performed in the West End.

Sadie Williams, May 2023

Photography by Simone Germaine Photography 

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