this may be a proudly amateur version of the show, but it still rings with joy
They seek out the worst script and the worst director to ensure their ‘failure’, but somehow Springtime For Hitler is an instant hit and their plans to move to Rio are substituted with time in the appropriately-named Sing Sing prison.
Oscar’s XI, a theatre company from Norwich School, take this bawdy dark comedy and throw some palpable enthusiasm at it. What they lack in stagecraft they more than make up for in passion – this may be a proudly amateur version of the show, but it still rings with joy.
The most stage time belongs to Robert Ekbery, who gives a formidable performance as Bialystock. Ekbery’s vocals are powerful and commanding. Opposite him Theo Wilson plays Bloom, timidly at first but then finding his stride. The author of Springtime Franz Liebkind is played by Rory Bartram who has to be the stand-out of the night, stealing every scene he goose-steps into. Playing the ultra-effeminate director Roger De Bris, Jonathan Hewitt is deliciously deadpan at times, and his ‘common law assistant’ Carmen Ghia, played by Finley Hanlon camps it up for all he was worth.
It’s not without flaws though, partly down to this being the first night and things needing to tighten up a little, but mostly due to that common man-trap of amateur productions, unchoreographed acting. When not in a preplanned routine they’re all wildly gesturing and shuffling around the stage. Here’s a tip ladies and gents: if the director hasn’t told you to move, don’t. Keep your arms by your side and stand still. Your performance will be better for it.
A little amateur mugging isn’t going to spoil this experience however; the cast are having too much of a good time. So let this young company of actors and their rather impressive band (I lost count, but there were more than ten of them) take you through a theatrical maelstrom.