Fagin’s Last Hour – New Wimbledon Theatre


“A powerful one-man show offering a fresh insight into literature’s most controversial villain”

A review by Tanya Howard

Fagin’s Last Hour is a one man show, with James Hyland playing Fagin, and is a retelling of Oliver Twist from Fagin’s perspective during his last hour before he goes to the gallows for his execution. I loved the film of Oliver Twist, but I have to admit that I’ve never actually read the book of it, so I didn’t realise quite how dark the story is in comparison and that Fagin’s fate was not skipping and dancing across London Bridge with Artful Dodger.

The scene before you is a straw square, a small bench and a man asleep in the corner, bloodied head and it’s very clear that this is Fagin in his cell awaiting his fate. The bells chime signalling the hour and Fagin wakes up realising it’s one hour before he is set to be hanged by the neck for his crimes and he starts to mull over exactly what happened to get his to this point, and how everything went down from the moment Oliver Twist walked into his life.

Not only does James Hyland take on the character of Fagin, he also adapted and produced the play, and has a fondness from Dickens having also adapted A Christmas Carol. You could see the passion coming across in his acting and he has a very powerful presence on the stage as he brings to life the characters of Nancy, Bill Sykes, Artful Dodger, Oliver Twist and the Magistrate as he tells his tale as Fagin. The way he moves, his mannerisms, the voice and stance he takes throughout showcases each character really well and gives them life to them each without worry of you getting lost during the performance.

The performance, at New Wimbledon Theatre, lasts for an hour and in that time James really brought life to the story. I felt like if I was to read the book I would be able to align his performance with it. I would recommend the piece to anyone who is a fan of Shakespeare and should satisfy anyone who enjoys a darker, more powerful piece of theatre.