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Yes please we’d all like some more

PUBLISHED: 13:12 25 September 2008 | UPDATED: 17:26 16 August 2010

ADEPT: Ellie Turner as Oliver and Cary Crankson as a member of the workhouse. Photo: Luke Varley

ADEPT: Ellie Turner as Oliver and Cary Crankson as a member of the workhouse. Photo: Luke Varley

LIKE Lady Bracknall s handbag line, the characters of Oliver Twist have become so etched on the theatrical psyche that it takes a brave actor to take on any of the roles.

LIKE Lady Bracknall's 'handbag' line, the characters of Oliver Twist have become so etched on the theatrical psyche that it takes a brave actor to take on any of the roles.

Oliver, Nancy, Sikes, Fagin and Dodger are so familiar both on stage and screen that they could be seen as the royal family of fiction, writes Kate Mead.

But this did not put off director Abigail Anderson in Love&Madness Ensemble's production at Greenwich Theatre.

Hell, she tripled up roles with a cast of just five, planted in some slick physical theatre and even added some instrumentals.

But while you could expect some rattling in this highly ambitious production, it generally rolled along in an entertaining fashion.

The show was mercifully devoid of any Oom Pa Pas thus allowing for the real grittiness of Dickensian poverty to be brought out to the fore.

A shaky, unfocused, start - perhaps compounded by the actors wandering amongst the audience have chit chats before the off - smacked of amateurish overtones.

But thankfully, by the time Oliver (played adeptly by Ellie Turner) asked for more, I was more than happy to have some.

Turner made a bolder Twist than any I have seen thankfully avoiding the sickly, annoying brat that so often adorns the stage.

But Simon Yadoo was the real diamond in the rough of this production, changing like a chameleon between his bullish Mr Bumble, terrifying Sikes and naive Mr Brownlow.

It was clear that he and Lucia McAnespie who played Nancy and Mrs Corney (amongst others) had clear chemistry on stage with the pace visibly lifting either in humour as the Bumbles court or in extraordinary pathos during Nancy's ugly demise.

Giving Yadoo a run for his money (or hanky?) was Cary Crankson whose transformation between the amiable and surprisingly loyal Dodger and the revolting Monks set him apart as a fine actor.

Preston Clare was clearly more comfortable in his role of Fagin than the others thrust upon him as the dialogue clearly sagged in the more narrative parts of the play.

It was in Clare that, perhaps, this production had bitten off more than it could chew handing him three of the weightiest parts.

Although he clearly looked the part, his nervous stage presence made it difficult to relate to any of his characters.

Nevertheless, the cast clearly worked well as an ensemble, with some fascinatingly simplistic stage tricks - Sikes's death working particularly well - and brilliant lighting effects designed by Mark Howland.

A worthy production, Oliver Twist shows how good things can come with a little hard work and good intention.

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