Oliver! Consider Yourself Amazing!

Please Sir, can we have some more?

Now over fifty years old, Oliver! has become so well-known it would be understandable if the musical had lost its ability to surprise. However, nothing could be further from the truth with this latest production, which manages to delight and amaze audience members of all ages.

For the few Tab readers unfamiliar with the plot (what have you been doing with your lives?), Oliver! is set in the dangerous streets and workhouses of 19th century London, where the titular orphan hopes to ‘find his fortune’.

Please Sir, can we have some more?!

Beaten, starved and accidentally ending up on the wrong side of the law, Oliver’s story of despair, hope, and murder will leave you feeling strangely uplifted.

Neil Morrissey (Men Behaving Badly, Waterloo Road) plays an implausible and lovable Fagan, the loveable crook who makes his way by training little boys to ‘pick a pocket or two’. Casting such a famous face can risk over-shadowing the show but Morrissey couldn’t be faulted, giving a performance which had the audience captivated and in laughter throughout.

However, at the unbelievably young age of nine, it was the Artful Dodger (Archie Murphy) who stole the show, even more so than little Oliver.

Nancy, played by Samantha Barks (currently starring on screen in Les Miserables), was another stand-out character with Barks’ portrayal of the faithful, kind-hearted partner of the brutal Bill Sykes entrancing the audience.

As Barks demonstrated on the BBC’s ‘I’d Do Anything!’, in which she came 3rd, she can really belt out a song or two!

The set designs are magnificently detailed; from the sun setting over St. Paul’s Cathedral to Fagan’s dark, dreary, ‘pocket-handkerchief covered’ den. The stage management and set changes moved like clockwork, transporting you across the city of London from dawn to dusk.

The only difficulty was in taking it all in. The mesmerizing choreography, a highlight of the show, had everyone on stage doing something different during the big musical numbers, causing your eye to roam constantly around the stage.

The performance was one of the best musicals I have ever seen, and deservedly received a standing ovation. Anyone lucky enough to attend a performance will undoubtedly be singing ‘Oliver! Oliver! Never before has a boy asked for more!’ in the days after!

Oliver! shows the West End isn’t the only place for flawless musical theatre, and the Bristol Hippodrome is a fantastic venue which every student should visit at least once in their time studying here.

Oliver! is running until the 24th February. Tickets start at £17.50.