The theatre may be larger, but the stage spreads out into the aisles, making us feel part of the fictional shtetl of Anatevka. Robert Jones’s wooden set may look rustic, but it envelops the theatre in a dark Russian winter. Strut staging leaves you close enough to feel the swoosh of long skirts and see the crispness of the choreography.
RSC veteran and multi-award-winning director Sir Trevor Nunn brings authenticity and plenty of heart to this vibrant revival. Last seen in London in 2007, the story of a Jewish community living on the brink of revolution in the early 1900s captures a poignant sense of shifting attitudes and customs.
With chipper dairyman Tevye (Andy Nyman) as our guide, we meet the locals and share in the stresses over finding husbands for his five dowry-less daughters. ‘Tradition’ we are told in a lively opening number, dictates daily life. As the show progresses, we see how these deep-rooted customs are at once a comfort and a curse.
Andy Nyman (Tevye)
Nyman emphasises humour in Tevye’s monologues to god and reinvigorates well-known number ‘If I Were A Rich Man’ with a grumbly sarcasm, before swirling around the stage with hands outstretched in a joyous dance. The three elder daughters are given gumption and spirit thanks to fine performances from Molly Osborne, Harriet Bunton and Nicola Brown.
As the younger generation protest against the prospect of arranged marriage, Tevye and his wife Golde (played with grace and honeyed vocals by Judy Kuhn) find their customs and their paternal devotion in opposition. Together Kuhn and Nyman bring aching tenderness to the famous ‘Sunrise, Sunset’ song charting the bittersweet sensation of seeing a child all grown up.
The clash between the Jews and the Russian soldiers, and the shifting traditions within both communities are given their own presence in Jerome Robbins & Matt Cole’s choreography. The bravura of the wedding day Bottle Dance gives way to the thrill of men and women dancing together for the first time. And the tensions between two cultures bursts into life in a vodka-fuelled dance-off medley of jaunty Jewish folk and chopping Russian kicks.
In the second half, cosy festivity fades into the devastation of displacement. Nunn shifts from homely closeness of one family losing their home to show the full scale of disruption as cloaked figures laden with bags file through the theatre in a flurry of snow.
Tickets start at £25. Click here to book.
|What||Fiddler on the Roof, Playhouse Theatre review|
|Where||Playhouse Theatre, Northumberland Avenue, London, WC2N 5DE | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Embankment (underground)|
27 Mar 19 – 28 Sep 19, 7:30 PM – 10:15 PM
|Website||Click here for more information|