REVIEW: Fiddler on the Roof, Menier Chocolate Factory

Trevor Nunn’s beautifully detailed production is filled with moments that capture the heart of the story perfectly. 

See accompanying caption sheet 2.jpg
(c)Johan Persson. 

From the second the audience steps into the auditorium for this glorious revival of Fiddler on the roof, they are immediately made to feel part of the  Anatevka community, thanks to the rustic and haunting set design by Robert Jones wrapped around them.

Director Trevor Nunn then builds on this by creating a warmly affectionate and poignant production that highlights the beautiful music and story to perfection. Throughout, Nunn manages to produce so many stunning moments that stays vividly in the mind of the audience long after the show finishes – in particular, the ‘Sunrise, Sunset’ sequence is wonderfully staged, with the help of Tim Lutkin’s soft and warm lighting to make a striking contrast to final shocking moments of the first act.

But the production also captures the strength and love that exists between all of the characters – not just in the community, but also more particularly the strong bond between Tevye and his daughters. The most powerful moments in the show come when he is torn about what is best for his daughters – does he let them marry for love going against his strong faith and belief in tradition? These moments are so raw and intense, it is hard not to be emotionally affected by it. This revival feels like a true celebration of love and relationships. But of course it is not all joyful, with the story  balanced with moments of fear and terror that cut through the joyous moments like a knife, staged with great sensitivity.

Sofia Bennett (Bielke), Shoshana Ezequiel (Shprintze), Kirsty MacLaren (Chava), Harriet Bunton (Hodel) by Johan Persson.jpg
(c)Johan Persson. 

Musically, there are so many treats to be found, with Tzeitel, Hodel and Chava’s rendition of ‘Matchmaker, matchmaker’ wonderfully sweet, the strength and power behind ‘Tradition’ extraordinary and the charming and hilariously performed ‘If I Were a Rich Man’ – all performed with great energy and personality from the cast.

However, if there is one little flaw (that probably won’t matter much to most people)it is that there are times when it feels that Nunn overestimates the size of the stage, with scene changes feeling crowded with too many people on stage making it feel slightly chaotic.

But despite this, the cast are all equally impressive giving their characters heaps of personality and warmth that keeps the audience thoroughly engaged with their story. In particular Andy Nyman as Tevye is wonderful to watch – strongly affectionate to his daughters but shows great strength of character when it comes to his faith and beliefs – you really get a sense of his struggle to reconcile the compassionate side of his character with his attitude towards tradition. The way in which he searches deep as each daughter begs to marry away from his expectations is extraordinarily powerful. He also has a lovely chemistry with Judy Kuhn as Golde, whose briskness works well against Tevye’s personality.

Elsewhere, Stewart Clarke is wonderfully passionate as Perchik, Louise Gold is hilarious as the upstanding Yente who is convinced no one can make wedding matches like she can, while Molly Osborne, Harriet Bunton and Kirsty Maclaren as Tevye’s daughters – all delivering spirited performances as each follow their own paths.

Overall, this is a brilliantly warm and affectionate revival, perfectly delivered by Trevor Nunn and everybody involved. It sets the bar high for any other revivals of this musical in the future.

By Emma Clarendon 

Fiddler on the Roof continues to play at the Menier Chocolate Factory until the 9th March 2019. For more information visit:

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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