Cameron Mackintosh's 'Oliver!'
Drury Lane Theatre, London
Thurs 16th July 09
Rowan Atkinson’s role as Fagin was highly anticipated from the off. The audience on the 16th July at Drury Lane were certainly keen for Atkinson’s arrival; a hearty round of applause directly followed the actors opening line. London loves a celebrity novelty.
While Atkinson was more than adequate as Fagin, he didn’t rejuvenate the role as much as he certainly could have; his delivery was a confusion of Ron Moody’s Fagin (19XX film version) and Atkinson’s infamous character creation ‘Mr Bean’. However, his natural flair for comedic timing enabled the talented young cast to bounce easily from him, and despite an entertaining rendition of ‘You’ve got to Pick a Pocket’, the audience was left with the impression that Atkinson was not cast on the virtues of his singing voice.
The show was as entertaining and colourful an evening as a top West End Show should be. The cast breezed through the brash chorus numbers, and the majority of the company could not be faulted for their efforts. Tamsin Carroll played the role of Nancy, and her dubious rendition of the climax of Nancy’s ballad could be absolved in the face of her sterling performance. Wendy Ferguson and Julius D’Silva were impeccable as the brilliantly funny Mr Bumble and Widow Corney; the bawdy focus on Ferguson’s ‘kittens’ was interestingly and amusingly displaced by the ample assets of Little Sally (Lynne Wilmot) later in the show. Showstopper tune ‘Who Will Buy’ stole the imagination of the audience through the whole cast pitching in their all and loving every minute, and the interactions of the cast with the intricate moving scenery gave the show that certain West End shine.
An enjoyable evening despite birds-eye view, Atkinson and his fellows seem to pull out all the stops and throw themselves heart and soul into the production. The faint tarnish on the polished production is unlikely to cause anyone unquiet in the face of the sheer energy and enthusiasm exuded from the stage.