The performance made an immediate impact with a set which evoked to perfection early Victorian London, not least the workhouse and the criminal underworld of gaslit streets and dark passageways. The backstage crew did a superb job of drawing us into this place and time, with Mr. Bamber’s atmospheric lighting and Mr. Edwards’s vivid sound design contributing greatly to the overall effect.
On to this stage stepped a remarkable young company, drawn entirely from the first to fourth years. Their skill, enthusiasm and sheer collective energy superbly conveyed the drama, humour and pathos of the familiar story and the wonderful music. The songs are too numerous to applaud individually but I cannot resist a mention of “I’d do anything”, Nancy’s very affecting “As long as he needs me”, Fagin’s brilliant “Reviewing the Situation”, and the Londoners’ haunting “Who will buy?”
While space precludes acknowledging every member of this talented cast in the way they deserve, mention must be made of the principals who brought such distinctive characterisations to their demanding roles. Toby Abbott was a most engaging Oliver, Lucy Boynes a very convincing Nancy, and Haydn Cawley a suitably pompous Mr. Bumble. Jack Furlong played a truly artful Dodger and Harry Sanger a duly villainous Bill Sykes. William Prior set the tone of the whole production with an astonishingly mature and accomplished portrayal of Fagin. Just as integral to the show’s success were the other highly individual actors and, of course, the sparkling chorus which variously gave us the workhouse inmates and assistants, Fagin’s gang and the Londoners.