Review: Fiddler on the Roof

Paul Michael Glaser takes the lead in this lavish, if drawn out production

Wed, Feb 19, 2014, 18:08

Fiddler on the Roof

Bord Gais Energy Theatre

***

This drawn-out production of Fiddler on the Roof leaves us fiddling at our watches as the third hour approaches. Apart from one spectacular dream-scene and a continuum of Jerry Bock’s brilliant music performed by highly accomplished instrumentalists, director and choreographer Criag Revel Horwood’s rendition of this timeless musical is certainly long-winded.

Paul Michael Glaser (who is better known as David Starsky from Starsky and Hutch ) takes centre stage as Tevye, an adoring Jewish father to five daughters and husband to the sharp-tongued Golde (Karen Mann), in a sensitive and meticulous performance that tops the team of talented players. His plight as a Jew in Russia on the verge of revolution in 1905 is made worse by his three eldest daughters rebelling against the age-old Jewish tradition of matrimonial match-making. Instead, they opt to marry whom they please out of love, leaving Tevye to fret over broken traditions and his rapidly waning authority.

In an enchanting duet with his wife, Tevye philosophises about the existence of love in his own 25-year marriage – Do You Love Me is one of the most memorable songs of the evening and captures the vividness of Sheldon Harnick’s lyrics. The wedding scene between Motel and Tzeilel is equally alluring as it opens to the hypnotic chorus of Sunrise Sunset before accelerating into a cavalcade of tightly choreographed boisterous celebrations.

By the time the third love-struck daughter gets round to the same-old revolt, the story is far from engaging. The music, however, is unremittingly wonderful, with the players’ instrumental panache as a group surpassing the vocal power in most of the songs.

Jennifer Douglas as the enigmatic Fiddler possesses unexpected stage presence from the lofty perches of a nifty gold and brown wooden set by Diego Pitarch. An assortment of instruments – from the double bass to flutes and whistles and percussive accessories – are permanent extensions of the acting ensemble and played like facets of their colourful personalities.

For lovers of authentic Jewish music, this is a generous rustic treat.

Ends Saturday