United Kingdom

‘Unexpected Twist’ at the Rose Theatre (Zainab Ahmed, LUS)

In 1838, when Charles Dickens published his beloved English novel ‘Oliver Twist’, nobody would have thought that the tale of child exploitation and destitution would be turned into something like ‘Unexpected Twist’. Unfortunately, many of the issues detailed in the book are still prevalent today. The modern adaptation revolves around vulnerable Shona, whose widowed father struggles to make ends meet, as she joins a new high school and gets drawn into a world of drugs, money laundering and violence. Her teacher, Miss Cavani, despite going through a tough time in her personal life, is desperate to save her students from the dangers of criminality. 

I watched the play at the Rose Theatre in Kingston, which had comfortable and spacious seating. There is no use of instruments – instead the talented young cast use their voices to create sound effects. Lead actor Drew Hylton is a promising new star and she portrayed the angst and troubles of teenage life very well. Dickensian figures loom in the background, punctuating the play with snippets from the original novel. The songs are catchy, paired with dynamic choreography. The set was dark and simple, which, when paired with colourful lights and smoke, added to the youthful vibe of the production. I asked Hazel Edwin, a fellow viewer, about her thoughts. “It was really fun to watch! I loved the fresh take on ‘Oliver Twist’ though I do think that there should have been some mention of social media and how it influences the lives of young people. That aside, I’d definitely recommend this play to anyone, young or old.” 


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