A contemporary hip hop production that is Fagin’sTwist by Avant Garde Dance at The Place gives us their interpretation of a classic tale in Oliver Twist.
We may have all seen a film or read the book about Oliver Twist so are aware of the story line however Avant Garde take that tale we have all believed and turn it on its head. Is there more to the story than meets the eye? There are always two sides and led through the night we are shown the story from the other side.
The story tells us everything from Fagins point of view, along with his sidekick Bill. Stuck in the workhouse. Orphans like Oliver. Dreaming of having a girlfriend and owning a pocket watch, paid for in full with a receipt to show they each have their individual dream. Praying for a better life away from the guards.
Fagin is driven, determined to better himself. Getting to know Bill in the workhouse they form a friendship and bond ‘as thick as thieves’.
Escaping they get caught up having to make a way in the real world. Living in the layer, Fagin turns to stealing, and along with his band of thieves organised by the Artful Dodger we see him rise. Bill gets lost, turns to drink and the relationship comes to a head when choices are to be made of who to follow.
Dodger finds another orphan with potential skills for pick pocketing on the streets to recruit and the first half ends with the introduction of this orphan as Oliver played out by a female character in Sia Gbamoi.
After a quick recap the second act charts Oliver’s part in Fagin s downfall. We learn Oliver may not be all he seems. Befriending Nancy in the gang, she see’s something more for Oliver, a need for him to get out. Nancy becomes a friend for Oliver.
We see that both Oliver and Fagin’s lives are alike in many ways. Oliver’s sweet nature tricks some, but yet it is his ambition, lies and ruthlessness that sees his the eventual rise lead this gang.
Telling a story through dance is always a difficult objective however through commentary given to us by The Artful Dodger himself, played brilliantly by Aaron Nuttal we are able to follow easily. Arran Green delivers as Fagin who immerses us in this world of thievery and friendships.
The whole group deliver in dance. We get Aaron Nuttal brilliantly break dancing in one scene, his movement when commentating too shows fantastic ability, Arran Green’s Fagin moves effortlessly in his long fur covered coat that stands him out as the leader wether he be chasing the swinging light or moving between the wooden backdrop. Nancy and Oliver share a beautiful scene where they bond and seamlessly rotate and dance on a table.
i was also very impressed with the music and staging. A simple wooden backdrop doubled and tripled up many a time over to create different environments, moved around by cast, danced on, and in and out of, it made for a well thought out piece of creativity in itself. Music and Lighting created the tension and atmosphere that accompanied the dance superbly.
This was a fantastic interpretation of a classic tale, turned on its head, and in the words of Oliver Twist himself left me saying…’Please sir, i want some more’