Fagin’s Twist reimagines Charles Dickens’ tale of the orphaned Oliver from the viewpoint of the story’s infamous old Jewish pickpocket. Yet, as this dance theatre piece from choreographer Tony Adigun and his company Avant Garde Dance unravels, it also presents a fresh twist on the character of Oliver.
From the opening beat, Adigun hits you with fast, precise choreography – contemporary dance sharpened by hip hop.
The dancers climb and jump between tall, wood panelled structures which they move around the stage, creating an ever-changing landscape that leads us from the workhouse to Fagin’s lair. It allows the story to progress swiftly from one scene to another, keeping pace with the shifting, unsettled world its characters inhabit.
Initially the accompanying script feels a little obvious, the text a tool for introducing new scenes and dance sequences, but in time it settles and melds with the movement. When Fagin and Bill Sykes look for a way to escape the workhouse it is through the dancer’s movements that we see the obstacles and winding passageways they must traverse to freedom.
The characters hinted at in the opening moments gradually develop into their Dickensian counterparts. By the second half you are drawn into their story, convinced by their emotions and the tale they are telling.
From pickpocketing scenes to fights filled with dives and airborne rotations, Adigun’s choreography pulses with energy. It’s brought to life by a cast that act and dance with every ounce of their being, together evoking the dark heart of Dickensian London.