Review: Fiddler on the Roof, Chichester Festival Theatre

“How can I hope to make you understand”

Though my life has long been filled with musicals, Fiddler on the Roof has never been the one. I’ve only ever seen it the once (2013’s touring version) and though I quite enjoyed it then, I can’t say I was hankering after seeing another production. And though Daniel Evans’ hands are sure indeed when it comes to classic musicals, I found something rather uninspired both about the choice of programming it for his new Chichester home (although it is an absolute banker) and in his production.

It is perfectly decent, and the quality is solidly good throughout. Omid Djalili is an effective presence as Tevye, Tracy-Ann Oberman is very good as Golde, and it is always nice to see Louis Maskell onstage. But Evans is a director (and artistic director) who has made my heart sing with glorious revivals such as My Fair Lady and Show Boat (and Company and Me and My Girl) and I missed that kind of magic emanating from the unforgiving vastness of the Chichester Festival Theatre’s main stage.

The show just looks a bit too clean, Alistair David’s choreography a little too mannered, the emotion just a little too distant in Joseph Stein’s occasionally interminable book. There’s choons aplenty to be sure, composer Jerry Bock and lyricist Sheldon Harnick writing this just one year after the glories of She Loves Me, and Tom Brady’s band sounds good. But as with Annie, traditional productions of classic musicals just aren’t doing it for me at the moment, I need something more to quicken the pulse.

Running time: 2 hours 40 minutes (with interval)
Photo: Johan Persson

Booking until 2nd September

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