Review: Fiddler on the Roof

Set in Western Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century, Tony Award-winning musical Fiddler on the Roof takes a sweeping look at family, tradition and life in small Jewish communities. The musical follows the story of Tevye, his wife Golde and his five headstrong daughters as they navigate a world which is changing faster than Tevye will admit. DramaSoc’s production, although at times a little uneven, captures the spirit and message of the story and presents it effectively in the intimate Drama Barn venue.

The character of Tevye is the heart of the story – he links the many plot threads together and it is his asides and ruminations which give the audience a clear insight into life within the fictional village of Anatevka. In this role, Peter May provides a thoughtful and touching performance, well balanced by Rowan Kitchen as his long suffering and forthright wife Golde. Their gentle duet in the second act is a standout moment, as it creates a very tangible sense of a deep relationship between the two characters.

On the whole, the rest of the cast are also equal to the occasion, with scene stealing turns from Katie Fozzard as the eccentric Yente and Alex McLintock as the bluff but kind Lazar Wolf. The singing within this production should also be commended – standout solos such as “Miracle of Miracles” and ensemble numbers such as “Sunrise, Sunset” and “Anatevka” are performed with passion and skill, displaying a careful balance between characterisation and vocal technique. In particular, Leo Clasen’s rendition of “Miracle of Miracles” should be commended for sheer stamina in executing demanding choreography alongside a strong vocal performance.

There are areas where this production feels a little less secure – some of the choreography is slick and well placed while other sequences feel underdeveloped. The decision to use Russian accents distracted from the otherwise stellar acting. This decision was also inconsistently applied, as some characters speak with strong accents and others with virtually no trace of a Russian accent at all. But elsewhere, production values were much higher – the set, props and costumes worked well together to create the impression of a rustic, rural setting. Moments of greater intimacy were enhanced by careful lighting, and the musical score was ably performed by Alex Davidson and his band.

The strongest and most powerful moments of the evening came from the quieter, family focussed scenes. The relationship between Chavaleh (an outstanding performance by Jessy Roberts) and Tevye is beautifully drawn and painful to witness, while the farewell of Hodel (Andreane Rellou) is understated but poignant. Although there is room for development and improvement, DramaSoc’s production of Fiddler on the Roof is a show which offers laughs and heartfelt emotion in equal measure.

Fiddler on the Roof, performing at the Drama Barn this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7:30pm. Tickets available on the door (£5/6).