Theatre review: Fiddler on the Roof

Fiddler on the Roof. Picture: Comp
Fiddler on the Roof. Picture: Comp
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CLEAR your mind of everything you thought you knew about Craig Revel Horwood, Paul Michael Glaser and Fiddler on the Roof. The Festival Theatre’s stage this week is full of unexpected delights.

* * * * *

The Festival Theatre

Revel Horwood may spend his weekends making catty quips about Strictly Come Dancing contestants in his role as judge, but during the week he puts his money where his critical mouth is.

Directing and choreographing a sombre yet engaging Fiddler on the Roof, Horwood creates an absorbing piece of theatre that had many of the audience on their feet applauding as the curtain fell.

Leading the cast as an understated Tevye, is Starsky and Hutch veteran Paul Michael Glaser. Together Revel Horwood and Glaser reinvent Fiddler on the Roof as a moving love letter to fatherhood.

The building tensions of Russian politics in the background and their effect on the little village of Anatevka still have their place, but Glaser’s inquiring conversations with his god as he goes about his daily business gives the production a human quality that actors rarely manage to capture in such an intimate way.

The character of Tevye is often played with a more bombastic attitude, he rails at the world, his bark bigger than his bite. In Glaser’s hands, however, there are moments of genuine poignancy and quiet authority. Glaser’s a father whose daughters are breaking his heart and he allows us in to examine the cracks in minute detail. Revel Horwood’s slow pacing of the production (the first act is a mighty 1 hour 40 minutes) also allows relationships to build and characters to form in such a way that the audience really invest in them and feel for them. It’s easy to find yourself relating to Tevye’s troubles and the banter he shares with his wife and friends.

Yet Revel Horwood has also put up barriers that interfere with the development of the drama. The cast play instruments as they perform, which gives the show an organic, flowing feel, but means the joy of the engagement of Tzeitel (Emily O’Keefe) and Motel (Jon Trenchard) is interrupted by their awkward obligation to use wind instruments to highlight their happiness.

Run ends Saturday