The Garden Suburb Theatre (GST) is a friendly and welcoming amateur theatre company.

We are a registered charity promoting involvement in the Dramatic Arts in North London. We welcome anyone who wishes to learn more about drama, either by participating in or coming to watch one of our diverse programme of shows.

Review

This was an ambitious production for such a small performing space and worked very well.

Musical support from a partially hidden band was sound although ensemble numbers often lost touch with Jon Musker's musical direction. Projection and diction were clear from both chorus and principals. The juvenile chorus was well drilled.

Direction from Diana Bromley was well paced. 'Where is Love?' would have had more impact if Oliver had stayed in one place rather than moving downstage. His escape from the Sowerberry's worked well although the arrest before the act I drop was somewhat anticlimactic.

Choreography from Emma Pleass was extremely effective. The opening to Act II and 'Who Will Buy?' were both particularly well realised with movement well suited to the small performing area. Indeed all chorus numbers looked good and were an object lesson in how to make effective use of a small stage.

The simple set worked very well and changes of scene using multi-sided flats were handled quickly and efficiently. The clear glass gin bottle was out of period.

Costumes displayed a mixture of styles and generally conformed to the setting. Mrs Sowerberry should really have been dressed in black or grey as should Charlotte. Noah Claypole was also too brightly dressed for an undertaker's assistant. Make-up was generally sound although children needed to look a little more pallid.

Turning in a superb performance - one of the best that I have ever seen of this role - was Gideon Leibowitz as Oliver. From his initial confrontation with Bumble to the final scenes, he made the character his own with a fresh and unclichéd portrayal. He had an appealing singing voice and gave good reactions to others. Very well played!

Owain Rose made a good Mr Bumble with good dramatic timing and a very evident sense of fun. The duet with Widow Corney, solidly portrayed by Simone Harrison worked well and I also liked his treatment of the dialogue with Brownlow.

Mr Sowerberry as portrayed by Adrian Hughes looked altogether too jolly to be an undertaker - more sombre character make-up may have helped. Georgina Price was an effective Mrs Sowerberry. 'That's your Funeral' should have been sung with a little more attack. Isaac Rudden did well as Noah Claypole who is a difficult character to portray well with so little stage time.

Tim Solomons seemed a rather genial Fagin - underplaying the character's meanness of spirit. He struggled with the melody of 'Pick a Pocket or two' but seemed more comfortable with his later numbers and 'Reviewing the situation' went rather well.

Carl Underhill as Bill Sikes did well in the climactic London Bridge scene though he would have benefitted from more prominent positioning. When dealing with Nancy, he appeared to forget about Oliver who had a clear escape route to stage left. 'My Name' was well sung and, while it would have been good to see more menace from him, chorus reactions to the song were most effective.

Nancy, of course, gets the best songs in the piece and Fran Trewin's strong voice and commanding characterisation suited the part perfectly. Zoe Mack gave great support as Bet.

Elisa Daeschner, playing the Artful Dodger en travesti was a bold idea and while it inevitably made one think of her as a 'principal boy' she had great stage presence and engaged well with the audience

The programme cover was interesting. Although the background photograph looked rather out of period with modern advertising boards in the distance, the composition was both eye-catching and original. The content was clear and easy to read and included attractive colour photographs. Thank you for including a Noda credit. Please consider using the crest which is available from the website.

Thank you for your invitation and your hospitality. I look forward to seeing you again soon.

Review by Paul M Holgate

This is a review of Oliver!

The original review is here: National Operatic & Dramatic Association report