LJMU student Jade Dowie reviews Fiddler on the Roof
Walking into the Everyman never fails to amaze me. I have not been to another venue quite like it. I love that it is smaller than the average theatre which creates a more intimate performance. Also, unlike the majority of theatres, the stage is in the centre of the audience. I believe that this is what makes seeing plays here so wonderful as it results in a more immersive experience.
It truly feels like the audience is part of the show.
I was particularly excited to be attending the first show to be performed by the Everyman’s new repertory company: Fiddler on the Roof. For this momentous occasion, I was struck how the stage was mostly empty, with minimal props and just a scattering of lightbulbs above as the main source of lighting. The spotlight was most definitely on the characters that took centre stage and, by extension, the brilliant cast of repertory actors.
Fiddler on the Roof is set in fictional Anatevka during Imperialist Russia and centres around penniless milkman Tevye, a man who is struggling to cling to his cultural and religious traditions while the world is rapidly changing around him. The prejudice that he and his Jewish community fall victim to immediately chimes with the contemporary anxieties of our multicultural societies. In finding suitable husbands for his five daughters, Tevye has to choose between the old way of doing things, potentially making them miserable in the process, or letting them decide for themselves what will make them happy. Patrick Brennan is brilliant as Tevye and moves between comical and emotional scenes with apparent ease. His performance is one of the best things about this production. Melanie La Barrie as his long-suffering wife Golde is another stand-out performance and their rendition of ‘Do You Love Me?’ perfectly captured their characters wonderful and complicated relationship.
Despite being a huge fan of musicals I had never seen Fiddler on the Roof before so I went into this production with no idea what to expect.
Not only was I impressed by the new repertory company, a truly talented group of people who appeared to relish the challenge of this ambitious first play, but I loved the show itself far more than I was anticipating. The musical is extremely funny, with endearing, eccentric characters, such as Yente the matchmaker, whom it was impossible not to feel for. The choreography was superb and had the audience clapping along and me wanting to join in (a rare feeling I assure you!). The standout scenes for me were both Tevye’s dream sequence and the bottle dancing scene which I felt perfectly encapsulated the show’s humour and energy and the versatility of the cast.
That isn’t to say that the play is without its problems. The first half is unusually long with 1 hour and 40 minutes to sit through till the interval but I found that there was so much going on that I barely noticed this. It was also clear that not all of the cast are professionally trained singers but I think that with this type of musical this actually adds to its charm and makes the characters feel more like real people. It is a play that actually benefits from its imperfections and it would ruin it if it were to become too polished.
However these are minor flaws in a truly amazing, funny and moving production. Even if you are not a fan of musicals do not let this put you off as there is something in this show for everyone, and with tickets being only £5 for LJMU students there is no reason not to go! The atmosphere in the theatre was infectious and I can honestly say that this is the best play that I have seen this year. The audience even gave a standing ovation and there is no higher praise than that!
I look forward to seeing what the repertory company tackle next.
Fiddler on the Roof is at the Everyman until Saturday 11 March. Jade Dowie is a third year English Literature student at LJMU.
Posted in THE EVERYMAN COMPANY