Fiddler on the Roof - Review
Updated: Sep 28, 2019
Fiddler on the roof is about small town Anatevka in Russia in the early 1900's and the Jewish people who live there going about their daily lives. It focuses on Tevye, a married milkman with 5 daughters who he hopes to marry off to scholars. But the focus is on tradition, how it's maintained, how it changes and the impacts is has on lives.
The three eldest daughters in their own way go against tradition with each pushing further than the one before. It shows the potential harm that unbending traditions can do, both to those who don't follow them as well as those who do and in particular the expectations society can place on individuals and families. As the show presents challenges to tradition each of the characters need to determine what's important to them.
The production itself challenges tradition from the beginning. When you enter the theatre you are greeted by an impressive immersive set, one of the more impressive sets we've seen for a while. It is evocative of a small village in early 1900's all made of wood built out over the first boxes, around the walls of the stalls and across the front of the dress circle. They even have a path that weaves its way through the stalls but this is mostly missed if you are in either of the balconies. Right at the start the production decides itself where it wants the stage to be and how the story will be told.
The cast excel in this production. Each character is multifaceted and there are nuances brought out in each through a combination of a great script, acting and direction. The daughters each understand the expectations of marriage and want their parents to be proud but also challenge society when they find love without the matchmaker. These conflicts are vividly portrayed in this production. Andy Nyman as Tevye and Maria Friedman as Golde in particular give standout performances within a superb cast. When Tevye asks Golde “Do you love me?” is a particularly touching moment as they reflect on their lives.
There are many small moments that make this a great production, such as in the opening scene a look between one of the daughters and her suitor that could easily be missed but come together to display real people in an interconnected society. Even the set changes are cleverly used to be evocative of family life and village life as the cast work together on them rather than using what could have been an easy electronic option.
We have to mention the choreography used here as an aggressive move; as a way to bring people together and to demonstrate changes in tradition. Given the way it’s staged we would advise (as always) to watch the show from above, rather than the stalls, to get the full effect of this.
The show displays a world that is changing which people cannot stop and they need to decide how they change with it as their traditions are challenged which could be viewed as a timely message for today. A great team has brought an old musical to life with tenderness, warmth and energy and I would urge you to go see it. This show gets 5 Laura Michelle-Kelly’s.
With it recently extending to November you can book tickets here: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/fiddler-on-the-roof/playhouse-theatre/