REVIEW: Fiddler On The Roof

Chichester Festival Theatre, until September 2.

Omid Djalili, Tracy-Ann Oberman and company. Pic by Johan Persson
Omid Djalili, Tracy-Ann Oberman and company. Pic by Johan Persson

Daniel Evans’s superb, detailed direction magnificently conjures a world on the cusp of change, a world undermined from within and threatened from without – an extraordinary picture which draws us in powerfully.

At the heart of it, still fighting the good fight whichever way he can, is Tevye - a simply outstanding performance from Omid Djalili as the man desperately trying to make sense of it all as his increasingly-rebellious daughters seem strangely disinclined to listen to him when it comes to marriage – a man who knows the writing’s on the wall for his whole way of life.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

You sense Djalili the stand-up in his warmth and his twinkle on stage and in the way his Tevye vents his frustrations on a God who really isn’t prepared to play the game; but just as importantly, you sense a superb actor, as powerful as he is poignant, stirred to fury but also – in perhaps the night’s finest scene – urgently needing the reassurance of his wife’s love.

Playing the wife is Tracy-Ann Oberman, again an exceptional performance, Oberman hinting at the heart beating behind all the enforced pragmatism of their endangered existence.

But allowing the couple to shine is a brilliant company, everyone playing their part in a night which seems to capture the passage of history. Such a shame the CFT once again gives into its penchant for projected images. We know this kind of thing really did happen. That’s precisely the point – and projections threaten to break the spell just when we are most inclined to admire it.

This silliness part, it’s a fine, fine night – the night we’ve been waiting for after the main-house’s faltering start to the summer. Evans’s production is shot through with humour; Alistair David’s choreography is superb; and the casting of Djalili really does seem to be the stroke of genius from which all else flows.

Djalili tackles If I Were A Rich Man with relish; Do You Love Me? he delivers with the vulnerability of a man challenged in absolutely everything else in a life which seems to be running away from him.

And yet he clings on to his pride and never ever quite loses his ingenuity. The dream sequence is stage-managed to perfection, rich comedy counterpoised beautifully by the looming threat which the Russians troops represent.

The ending is as stark as it is brilliant.

Don't miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.

Here are four ways you can be sure you'll be amongst the first to know what's going on.

1) Make our website your homepage

2) Like our Facebook page

3) Follow us on Twitter

4) Register with us by clicking on 'sign in' (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.

And do share with your family and friends - so they don't miss out!

Always the first with your local news.

Be part of it.