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Oliver! Jr

by on 12 May 2023

Fiery Red

Oliver! Jr

by Lionel Bart

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

Review by Sadie Williams

As the curtains drew back to reveal the brilliantly staged set (designed by Hannah Callarco), the audience was instantly transported to Victorian London.  The steps, the tunnel and the dreary but realistic brickwork simultaneously presented an atmosphere of destitution, but also gave the opportunity for endless theatrical possibilities.   The fantastic young cast of 8–12-year-olds set the tone with vigour and vibrancy, and I felt that a West End production would struggle to do Food Glorious Food more justice.   The orphans were brilliantly dressed by Jo Scholes and their dirty faces helped to convey their loveless, dire fate.  Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, Huey Chalmers lit up the stage as Oliver with his angelic singing voice and heartfelt performance.  A larger- than-life Mr Bumble, played by Raphael Cavendish also helped to keep the energy high and contagious.

Matthew Bunn, the Director, created yet another masterwork here, but his true gift lies in his ability to encourage the young cast to love every minute and make each performance their own.   This was demonstrated in Misty Le Good’s enchanting portrayal of the Artful Dodger, a captivating performance, considering her honourable instinct to gently lead the younger members of the cast.   Grace O’Hara and Remy Gilbert, who played Nancy and Fagin, were able to master the detailed choreography of Heather Stockwell with Oom-Pah-Pah and Reviewing the Situation.   O’Hara’s wistful stares and Gilbert’s bumbling characterisation made them appear blissfully unaware of their remarkable talents that seemed to flow effortlessly, without limit.

Seldom have I truly understood the meaning of the word drama before Bill Sykes, played by Oliver Musgrave, stomped menacingly across the stage staring at the audience as he went.  This performance terrorised the audience right up until his cleverly staged death at the end.   

By the end of the show I had tears in my eyes.  I had been moved.  Moved by the powerful performances of a very young cast but also the endless possibility of what children can achieve when they feel supported and inspired.  Well done Dramacube!

Sadie Williams, May 2023

Photography by Simone Germaine Photography 

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