A brilliant blend bringing the traditional Dickens story up to date with one of the most innovative and amazing soundtracks in current theatre.
Lifting an old story and bringing it up to date is nothing new, there have been many, many attempts over the years, but what sets Michael Rosen’s Unexpected Twist apart is the brilliance of cross referencing the new & old into this seamless repositioning. Under Director James Dacre’s guidance, Dickens’ themes of greed, alienation, desire to fit in, want for betterment and recognising one’s place in life are reinforced through wonderful acting and phenomenal talent.
The original music by rising R&B star Yaya Bey and BAC Beatbox Academy’s Conrad Murray provide a unique soundscape all performed by the cast; world-class beatboxing, ambient noises, perfect harmonies and some truly outstanding lead vocals help to drive the story forwards whilst retaining a sense of claustrophobia, mirroring the character’s feelings of being trapped in their own little part of the world.
Rosie Hilal as the inner city school teacher Miss Cavani desperately tries to educate her young wards into the pitfalls and follies of being blinded by desire. She uses Dickens Oliver Twist to draw comparisons and highlight the dangers that Oliver faced when he allowed Fagin, Sykes and Dodger to tempt him into their seedy world of crime and violence. Mirroring this in a modern-day approach, new girl Shona (Drew Hylton) finds herself the target of Pops (James Meteyard) who, aided by some of Shona’s new classmates, grooms her to become one of his gang.
Torn between wanting to follow the right path, but desperate to break away from the endless cycle of poverty, evictions and making do, and despite Miss Cavani’s attempts to intervene, Shona succumbs to the shining promises of new phones, money in her pocket and misplaced ideas of freedom. It is not until she has a heart to heart with her ailing Nan that she realises there must be more to life than the lost loop of loneliness but who will step up to be her Mr Brownlow?
Whilst this production is very heavily centred on high school, the themes and motives are instantly recognisable for all ages; Thomas Vernal as Shona’s Dad is particularly good at portraying the frustrations of an emasculated single parent, hamstrung by the lack of money and almost helpless to prevent temptation of his little girl.
Most certainly recommended, this show is both powerful and gentle and leaves the audience questioning just what have we learned over the almost 200 years since the original Twist was first published.
Unexpected Twist is on tour - for dates & tickets check here