Theatre Review: FAGIN’S TWIST – The Lowry, Salford

FAGIN'S TWIST. Photo: Eric Richmond

FAGIN’S TWIST. Photo: Eric Richmond

Bold, ambitious and incredibly inventive, FAGIN’S TWIST shows Dicken’s Oliver Twist in a shadowy new light

Following the highly successful THE BLACK ALBUM in 2014, Avant Garde Dance return to the stage for their first major production, FAGIN’S TWIST.

Inspired by Charles Dickens’ classic tale, FAGIN’S TWIST tells the untold story of one of literature’s most notorious, complex and misunderstood villains. The evocative piece follows five familiar characters: Oliver; Fagin; Bill Sykes; Nancy and the Artful Dodger and reimagines the paths of their lives and their individual circumstances. But while some characters are all what we expect them to be, others are seen in a darker, more mysterious light, challenging our perceptions of the much loved classic.

Bold, ambitious and incredibly inventive, FAGIN’S TWIST is a high energy, high intensity dance piece which shows Dicken’s Oliver Twist in a shadowy new light. The innovative and ambitious reimagining takes everything we know and love about Dicken’s classic tale and flips it on its head in contemporary hip hop style.

Tony Adigun’s choreography is simply breathtaking with the eight piece dance troupe performing the high speed, complex dance moves with style, panache and slick precision. The workhouse sequence is particularly impressive with the fast-paced and dynamic choreography perfectly matching Benji Bower and Brian Hargreaves’ eclectic score to conjure up an atmosphere of urban adversity and survival. The scene at The Layer where Fagin trains his young pickpockets is equally impressive with the dancers wowing the audience with their complex dance tricks, spins, back flips and cartwheels.

What makes FAGIN’S TWIST so special is its subtle layers of texture and precision. This is more than just a dance piece, it is a work of art, with Maxwell Golden’s poetic and lyrical script cleverly using famous phrases like “food glorious food”, “consider yourself one of the family” and “more, you want more?” in surprising and different ways, while dramaturg Adam Peck cleverly draws parallels between Victorian London and the modern society we inhabit today.

Aaron Nutall shines as the mischievous but likeable Artful Dodger, winning over the audience with his clown-like dance tricks and cheeky-chappy attitude. Dani Harris-Walters is equally good as Bill Sykes, the man worn down by addiction and jealously as anger and rage boil up inside him.

But the star of the show is undoubtedly Joshua Jones as the charming and charismatic Fagin, a man who, like the rest of us, is deceived by those he loved and trusted.

While there is much to love about FAGIN’S TWIST, like the novel, the themes of poverty and social injustice mean there is little room for light-heartedness. As such, the piece is dark, powerful and incredibly intense with almost no relief as it takes your breath away. A few sound issues also spoilt an otherwise flawless performance, making it difficult to hear the commentary at times.

That said, FAGIN’S TWIST is incredibly inventive and entertaining dance piece that is well worth a watch, particularly if you’re a fan of Dickens’ classic tale. An inventive, dynamic and high intensity dance piece which pushes the boundaries of hip-hop and contemporary dance.

4 out of 5 stars

FAGIN’S TWIST runs at The Lowry until Saturday 21 May