Playhouse Theatre, London – until 2 November 2019
Trevor Nunn’s glorious revival of this classic musical is wonderfully heartwarming to watch.
Since opening at the Menier Chocolate Factory last December, Trevor Nunn’s beautifully authentic production of Fiddler on the Roof is still wonderful to watch unfold as you are drawn into the world of Anatevka and its residents.
Set in 1905, the musical follows the story of Tevye, his wife Golde and his five daughters living in Anatevka’s Russian shtetl. Tevye is a firm believer in tradition – but is forced to rethink this when his three elder daughters decide to defy their his expectations and marry men of their own choosing without the help of matchmaker Yente. Things are further shaken up in Anatevka’s community with the arrival of Perchik whose radical views begin to change attitudes. But with rumours of Jewish people being kicked out of villages across the country there is danger lurking for the community.
What makes this such a strong revival is the way in which Nunn’s production highlights the relevance of the musical in 2019 – particularly with regards to the rise in hate crime in society at the moment. But as well as the serious and emotional moments (the way in which the final scene plays out is particularly heart-wrenching), Nunn’s revival is filled with warmth, humour and spirit that keeps the show completely engaging.
Every moment of the production feels authentic – scenes such as Tzeitel’s wedding to Motel is exquisite to watch, with the harmonies during ‘Sunrise, Sunset’ enhancing the romance and sincerity. The references to the Jewish faith are all handled with great sensitivity and respect as seen through the ‘Saabath Prayer’, ensuring that the audience never loses sight of why tradition is so important Tevye and the community.
This authenticity carries through everything, starting with the set design by Robert Jones that so effectively wraps itself around the auditorium and through the audience, allowing them to feel as close to the characters and the community as possible. Meanwhile, Tim Lutkin’s lighting design wonderfully highlights the most poignant scenes, giving them a lovely atmosphere that reflects what is happening in the story at that moment – shown well during Tevye’s dream sequence.
Meanwhile, Matt Cole’s choreography is wonderfully lively and entertaining throughout as the wedding scene shows, but it is the performance of the bottle dance formed of original choreography by Jerome Robbins that is a real highlight, with the performers taking part performing it with great skill and enthusiasm.
Since I last came to see this production there have been a couple of cast changes, with Maria Friedman and Anita Dobson joining the production to play Golde and Yente – both offer excellent performances, with Friedman in particular standing out as the exasperated and strong Golde. She has a lovely chemistry with Andy Nyman’s charismatic Tvye that is brought to head with their lovely duet ‘Do You Love Me?’. Nyman effectively makes the role his own, highlighting the character’s sense of humour seen during the memorable rendition of ‘If I Were a Rich Man’ while showcasing the character’s sense of pride in his beliefs and tradition that explodes as he confronts Chava about seeing Fyedka.
Overall, Trevor Nunn’s production is an emotionally engaging and beautiful show from start to finish. If you have to see one production of Fiddler on the Roof – make it this one.
By Emma Clarendon
Fiddler on the Roof continues to play at the Playhouse Theatre until the 2nd November.To book tickets click here or visit: ATG Tickets, Love Theatre.com, Theatre Tickets Direct.co.uk, Encore Tickets, From the Box Office , Last Minute.com, West End Theatre Breaks or See Tickets.