Dance review: Fagin's Twist, Tramway, Glasgow

HE'S ONE of Dickens' most recognisable characters, with his dark eyes, hunched shoulders and grasping fingers. But Fagin didn't start life that way, as choreographer Tony Adigun sets out to explore in this dance-theatre version of Oliver Twist.

Fagin's Twist. Picture: Contributed
Fagin's Twist. Picture: Contributed

Fagin’s Twist | Rating: **** | Tramway, Glasgow

Adigun cut his teeth in the commercial dance world, and set up Avant Garde Dance as an outlet for more artistic endeavours.

In the absence of detailed backstory in Dickens’ original novel, Adigun and cast have simply imagined the kind of formative years that would shape men such as Fagin and Bill Sykes. Absent fathers, dead mothers and a harsh childhood in the workhouse are depicted on a dimly lit stage, where an ingenious set morphs from prison bunks to backstreet pad.

For those who know the story, the major players are obvious – Fagin building his crew of young pick-pockets, Bill and Nancy striking up their dysfunctional relationship, the Artful Dodger running the show on the streets, and young Oliver trying to find his place in their criminal underworld.

For those who don’t, a narrative spoken by the dancers fills in the gaps. Which, although beautifully written, occasionally feels laboured. Where Adigun and his tight ensemble really shine, is in the pure dance moments: energised, synchronised and at times capable of adrenalin-inducing excitement.