Fagin's Last Hour
Sun, 14th Oct 12
This one man show takes us into Fagin's cell in the last hour of his last morning as he awaits execution - one of many reminders in the evening that we are in Dickens' dark Victorian London and not Lionel Bart's colourful, song filled one. Dickens' original view of Fagin, Sykes and Nancy was not a flatering one and we see here all the cruelty, violence and deceit Dickens intended. Not a pretty sight but powerfully portrayed with each character well differentiated by voice and movement so that there was never any confusion about who was talking ... even Bullseye got a cameo, nice one ;-)
Oliver's story is told to us from Fagin's perspective, so we get only the parts that he sees from when Dodger first brings him back until he is re-united with his family - more importantly, we get his take on the situation. Fagin is part of three despised sub-cultures; Jews, criminals and the poor (though at the time, arguably, many saw little difference between the first two!). In his own head, however, he is a "part of society", a man at the nbottom of the heap trying to make ends meet and no better and no worse than many - except that, as a Jew, the law is against him before he even opens his mouth.
For me there is perhaps too little light and shade in the performance, that much power on stage takes a lot of watching and the audience need a break from time to time, not least to allow them to absorb and process what they are seeing - although most must know the story, the perspectives and prejudices may well be new ....
There really is much to admire in this show ... if you love your Dickens, you will enojoy the experience.