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Watermill - Fiddler on the Roof

10th April to 1st June 2002.

The Guardian's review is here:

This is from the Newbury Weekly News.

Director with inspired touch

'FIDDLER ON THE ROOF', at The Watermill, until June 1

The Watermill lends itself to being transformed into a room in the village of 'Anatevka, Anatevka, underfed, overworked Anatevka', the massive beams and dusky depths of its roof blending into the stage until it seems as though the audience are sparrows perched in the caves, observing the doings of Tevye, his wife and children.

Tradition is everything to this Jewish family, including that of using a matchmaker, Yente, to find husbands for the three daughters, Tzeitel, Hodel and Chava. The first break with tradition comes when Tzeitel and the young tailor Motel pledge themselves to each other without using Yente, and then strangers to the close little community arrive bringing warnings of danger which threaten Anatevka,

This is a production full of contrasts, one moment laughter, the next unbearably moving and as much a star as any member of the excellent cast is the superb music, directed and rearranged by Sarah Travis and played sympathetically or exuberantly by these incredibly talented actor musicians.

John Doyle's inspired direction of this in-the-round production turns the audience not merely into observers, but part of the family, sharing its joys and sorrows.

As 'Poppa' Tevye, Edward York gave a larger-than-life, gloriously Jewish performance, while only 'Momma' Golde, Karen Mann, a past-master of the dry aside, could make the two words: "Another blessing", sound hilarious on hearing there would be one more for supper.

The arrival of the idealistic Perchik (Christopher Dickins) who persuades Hodel (Lesley Young) to go away with him, and the fanatical Fyedka (Michael Howcroft) brings trouble. After the wedding of Tzeitel (Susanna Northern) and Motel (Paul Harvard), Fyedka tells the family they must leave before the terrors of Jewish persecution reach them.

With Rebecca Jackson as Yente and Paul Kissaun as a would-be husband for Tzeitel, these actor musicians have brought another superb musical to the Watetmill. The songs are of course, familiar, but Lesley Young brings a new pathos to 'Far From the Home I Love', and the much-performed 'Sunrise, Sunset' acquires new meaning performed by this company.

The story of 'Fiddler on the Roof' combines lovely music with a sense of underlying terror, such that you fear for the family's future.

Surely, surely, another hit.


This is Newbury Theatre's view, broadcast on Kick FM.

This was another production directed by John Doyle, who has put on so many successful shows at the Watermill, and it's in the style of his other shows - a group of actors who are also singers and musicians. It's the story of a Jewish family in Russia which gets broken up by marriages and by persecution of the Jews. So it's in the How Green Was My Valley tradition of "poor but happy family in supportive community gets torn apart by events beyond their control". But it's still a happy production, and like all John Doyle's shows, bursting with energy. The acting is excellent, and it was a very enjoyable evening. Recommended.