Sunday, December 3

Oliver Twist – Storyhouse Chester

The Christmas season is back and with it brings the next instalment in the ever-popular Storyhouse Originals, Oliver Twist. Adapted by Alex Clifton, Storyhouse have worked their magic once again to bring this classic story to Chester with the added extra something special that Storyhouse always manage to inject.

With the auditorium set out in the thrust configuration, the intimate setting it perfect to transport us to the streets of London, with a huge house at the back of the stage as the focal point. The use of the space is creative and transitions from scene to scene with such ease that you go from a London Street to Fagin’s Lair to Mr Brownlow’s House in a blink of an eye. With pieces opening out in to shop fronts, to secret ‘entrances’ for Fagin, including tiny details like a life like pigeon to the floor design set out like a particular landmark in London, Designer Liz Wright has created a piece of magic.

The adult cast are so tight and manage to create so many separate roles including musicians and even a beautiful section where one becomes ‘the dancing moon’ and treated the audience to a beautiful interpretation.

Matthew Ganley returns for a second year to Storyhouse to play Bill and this also marks his debut as Musical director, taking classic 80s songs and giving them a creative edge to fit in to the world of Oliver Twist. A huge undertaking and one delivered so well.

Fagin, played by Cynthia Emeagi, brings a modern style to the role, making it fresh compared to the original concept of Fagin. Keshini Misha shone as Dodger, keeping the heart and energy of the character and Jessica Jolley delivered a stellar performance as Nancy, bringing the strong character out but switching it to show the soft, caring side of the character with such ease and passion. The role of Oliver is shared by four young performers, Jacob Collinson, Reuben Connor, Juliette Dear and Luwe Hayes-Roberts.

The Sowerberry’s are larger than life and are played incredibly well by Liz Jadev and Milton Lopes. Jadev’s interpretation of Mr Sowerberry was hilarious, throwing herself into the character with such force and the most incredible facial expressions. Lopes as Mrs Sowerberry completely stole the show, making the mean character so loveable and funny. Including very current jokes and great audience interaction. Along with stunning vocals and aerial stunts, Lopes delivers repeatedly.

The junior cast delivered an impressive performance, delivering confident characters and seemed to be enjoying their time on the stage. There were a couple of occasions where a some of cast members seemed a little hesitant or unsure where they were supposed to be but as it is so early in the run, we can forgive this as this may have been some of their first performances.

Director Kash Arshed delivered a sharp vision with this piece and made some fantastic choices and Movement by Rhianne Stubbs was inventive and clever, keeping the piece moving and interesting at all times. Lighting is used very well to create ambience and mark out different sections of the set which is important when it comes to a static set to stop it becoming too still. Fantastic job by Martha Godfrey.

Storyhouse have hit the mark once again and have created a show that I’m sure will be enjoyed repeatedly throughout the Christmas period.

Running until Sunday 16th January 2022

Reviewer: Damian Riverol

Reviewed: 8th December 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★