Coming Out of Left Field

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Amazing "Oliver", not so amazing Oliver

Went to see the ART's production of "Oliver Twist" the other day. Knowing the theater's avant-guard rep (and also knowing this was a new adaptation, not the musical), I was a little apprehensive. But it was a very good show -- swiftly paced and, overall, wonderfully acted. The Dodger in particular was very good ... it wasn't until afterwards that the wife and I realized we'd seen him in quite a different role in "Kissing Jessica Stein".

There were only two minuses. The music wasn't very memorable -- it was authentic and served a narrative purpose, so it naturally wasn't something you go out of the theater humming. (If anything, you can't help humming the music from "Oliver!") And the actor who played Oliver was too old for the part (at least 16) and far too meek. As our niece and nephew pointed out, he spent all his time either crying or saying, "Yes, sir." The one time he was supposed to stand up and defend himself, he ended up doing this very slow, one-handed push that wouldn't have knocked over my grandmother, let alone a sturdy boy. I know this wasn't supposed to be a feel-good musical, but would it have hurt to give Oliver even a little pluck?

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