Oliver ! at the Crucible

Going to see the  musicals at The Crucible in Sheffield is in danger of becoming a tradition.  Last year it was “My Fair Lady” and this year we have just seen  Lionel Bart’s “Oliver !”  Right from the beginning it pulled no punches, with Oliver’s birth, which killed his mother, on stage,  followed in the course of the play by Oliver’s sadistic whipping by Mr Bumble and the Trustees after the boy asked for more, Sykes’ assault on Nancy which realistically bloodies her face, and then the final brutal killing of Nancy just a few feet from the cowering Oliver.  It’s a wonder that he seems to recover in a trice and isn’t totally traumatised.  Kids’ chorus was a delight but the real stars were Hayley Gallivan as an exuberant, tender and powerfully voiced Nancy and Tom Eddon as Fagin.  Fagin gambols and dances to amuse his young charges, fawns upon Bill Sykes, and indulges Nancy’s high spirits, but doesn’t conceal the greed and violence underneath.  It’s a wonderfully enjoyable production, but I wouldn’t take any young children to see it – the violence is too real – it’s no pantomime.

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