Edinburgh Fringe 2016
An enthusiastic and engaging adaptation of Fiddle On The Roof from a young company with bags of energy and spirit.
Putting on a small show at the Fringe is enough to drive most people to distraction but the logistics involved in bringing a cast of twenty-five (ranging in age from five through to, well, a little bit north of forty) several hundred miles north plus a barrow-load (literally) of props and costumes would defeat all but the brave and intrepid. And choosing to put on something like Fiddler On The Roof, a production that everyone knows and everyone has an opinion on, was nothing short of heroic.
So I take my hat off to this enthusiastic and very engaging troupe from Cuddington, a pretty little village nestling in the folds of the Cheshire hills, for pulling off this gargantuan task. True, a few things went “bump in the night” but when your production starts with an eight year old, one Felix Jamieson, faultlessly playing live the opening bars of a plaintive violin solo, you can forgive almost anything that happens thereafter.
The ensemble numbers were a delight, no more so than the opening Tradition and closing Anatevka. We had confident, expressive singing, beautifully choreographed movement (no mean feat given the numbers on stage) and some lively gymnastics from the younger members (Master Jamieson again stealing the limelight). And strong character portrayals of Tevye from Kyle Davies and the extremely impressive Lucy Evans as Golde (who has the makings of a fine singing voice too) kept the plot rolling along.
There were some delightful vignettes to admire as well, including three extremely young and cheeky bartenders, a very precocious Shprintze and an engaging Chava (Kitty McLoughlin). Someone also deserves a medal for the quality and variety of props on display, including a working cart (how did they get that here I wonder?), some very well designed costumes and a variety of amazing whiskers which helped “age” a number of this youthful ensemble.
A few of the solo voices were apt to go flat and were occasionally overpowered by the backing track and they could have taken about fifteen minutes off the running time with slicker scene changes and generally tighter cueing. And that age old “am dram” curse, off-stage whispers drifting their way on-stage, did suggest that there was an element of pandemonium in the wings at times.
But if there was a “Spirit of the Fringe” award, these guys would get one. Nothing was going to get in their way of entertaining the appreciative and responsive audience, quite a few of whom they’d dragged north to support them. The backing track ground to a halt at one point, the lights mysteriously dimmed and I could hear the panic emanating from the techies in their box as they battled to work out which gremlin had got into the system. The cast? Didn’t miss a beat. Just carried on singing and dancing in the semi-dark as if nothing had happened. Priceless.
West End quality it isn’t, but you might want to go and support this crew as they are the embodiment of the Fringe – living the dream. They just keep calm and carry on singing.