Pros: Thrilling, engrossing and exquisitely dark.
Cons: Some dance routines feel a bit repetitive.
With the Victorian era being back in trend on the catwalks and in the screening rooms, it is particularly interesting to see how the live performing arts have updated their repertoire to present an innovative take on the matter.
Poised between the traditional novel and its modern interpretation, Avant Garde Dance Company brings on stage Fagin’s Twist: the tale of Oliver Twist and his companions as we’ve never seen it before. On an introductory note, choreographer and director Tony Adigun has extensively explained the creative process that inspired him and his team. Delving into the characters of Oliver, Fagin, Nancy, Bill Sykes and the Artful Dodger, the creatives aimed at bringing up the darkest nuances of their personalities that had been moulded by need and deprivation.
Along our journey, we meet a young Fagin (Joshua James Smith) who hopes for an honest and respectable future, a naïve Bill (Dani Harris-Walters) who dreams of the big love, a remarkably chatty Artful Dodger (Aaron Nuttall) who’s easily deceived by Oliver’s (Jemima Brown) misleading baby face and a submissive Nancy (Lisa Hood) who ends up being victim of her own maternal instincts.
The whole is wrapped into a 100-minute powerful piece of breakdancing, hip-hop and contemporary dance, accompanied mostly by computer-generated soundtracks that only in rare occasions surrenders to the more melodic sadness of piano and strings. Brian Hargreaves and Seymour Milton seem to have chosen the tracks with the purpose of offering a strongly evocative musical background to the story.
Jackie Shemesh’s lighting takes shape and becomes alive, as if it was a member of the ensemble itself, committed to mirroring and complementing the principals on stage. The set and props, designed by Yann Seabra, are an essential element of the performance and mutate continuously according to the evolutions of the plot. After the tunes, the costumes – with their steampunk references – are the aspect that boast the most modernised features.
Adigun’s choreographies are harmoniously composed to create an idea of collective movement, from which the impressive acrobatic skills of Aaron Nuttall stand out together with the superb agility of the minute Jemima Brown. Joshua James Smith and Dani Harris-Walters are generally consistent throughout the show, but some of their moves risk to become repetitive, whereas Lisa Hood is a bit too stiff at times. Overall, the ensemble delivers a high-energy and rich physical work that finds its utmost accomplishment through the spoken word and culminates into Fagin’s open-hearted monologue.
Whether you are a great admirer of Charles Dickens and know Oliver Twist by heart or this is the first time you witness his adventures, Fagin’s Twist is an engaging, solid and entertaining dance that could satisfy in equal measure a Victorian inclination towards dark plots and the current preference for technological solutions.
Original Author: Charles Dickens
Choreographer and Director: Tony Adigun
Author: Maxwell Golden
Dramaturg: Adam Peck
Producer: Avant Garde Dance Company and The Place
Box Office: 020 7121 1100
Booking Link: http://www.theplace.org.uk/whats-on/place-and-avant-garde-dance-company-present
Booking Until: 15 October 2016