Fiddler on the Roof
Music By Jerry Bock, Lyrics By Sheldon Harnick, Book/Libretto by Joseph Stein, Based on the Sholem Aleichem stories, by special permission of Arnold Perl
Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
It's a long show, and I enjoyed every wonderful minute of it. At first, it appeared to be yet another Musical revival, with its familiar opening songs and the loquacious Tevye holding forth in his chats to The Lord. But it turns out to be a most subtle production, with numerous levels of interest from simple home grown philosophising to the initial outpourings of a new fighter for the rights of the worker against the bosses, the roles of women in this technically male dominated hierarchy, the peasants and the supportive local policeman, compelled nevertheless to carry out the orders of 'those up above'. The Rabbi provided a blessing for the Czar - and keep him far away from us! But it was also a time of change from the strictly observant male dominated prayerful elders deciding their daughters' marriages to the tolerance of personal choice in the marriage partner, at least within the religious group.
Every inch of the stage was used, including a convenient railway line heading for Siberia, the roof for the fiddler, cleverly playing and dancing round the set, and the milk cart, pulled by Tevye in the absence of his horse, lame in one leg, and with no stand-in.
Henry Goodman as Tevye was excellent - no 'on the other hand' about it. He was ably supported by Golde (Beverley Klein), his wife as well as the five daughters, with the junior ones and other parts played by eight local youngsters. All the voices, the dancing and the music were excellent. The direction by Lindsay Posner smoothly dealt with the many moods; the dream scene was a particularly violent nightmare. The cast were elegantly supported by the lighting and the stage design.
I have to declare a particular interest as my grandparents would most likely have been part of such an emigration in the 1880s; I do not know if they could sing.
Playing until 20th January
Reviewer: Philip Seager