Oliver! Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London
Roaring Trade, Soho Theatre, London
Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, NT Olivier, London

Rowan Atkinson makes a convincing Fagin in Cameron Mackintosh's revival of the enduring musical

Second helpings, anyone? It's not a line you associate with Oliver Twist. When Dickens's half-starved orphan boy asks for more, all he gets from the workhouse beadle, Mr Bumble, is a flea in his ear. But producer Cameron Mackintosh is not averse to the idea of the same again.

Though directed by Rupert Goold, who is renowned for taking award-winning new angles on classic plays, this Drury Lane Oliver! is essentially a revival of Sam Mendes's 1994 Palladium staging of the Lionel Bart musical. Goold was Mendes's assistant back then. So, is it just reheated leftovers? Not at all.

What's joyous is that this Oliver! feels fresh and exuberant – spiritually full of beans. The child actors are absolutely charming. Performing in rep with two other finalists from the sales-bolstering TV talent show I'd Do Anything, Harry Stott's Oliver has a gentle unaffected sweetness, with his mop of dark hair and serious face. He has the purity of a chorister when he sings "Who will buy this wonderful morning?"

Jodie Prenger's buxom Nancy (also from I'd Do Anything) proves splendid too, swinging into Fagin's den, swishing her petticoats. She exudes lovely natural confidence and touching warmth as she belts out "It's a fine life" and gives all the little rapscallions a hug. (She, by the by, is not playing all performances either, presumably to avoid strained vocal cords.)

As for Rowan Atkinson, it's a rare treat to see this comic actor in the flesh. His Fagin, with thinning ratty hair, is rich in hilarious idiosyncratic detailing, even if his nervous quivering is not convincing. His relish of the plosives in "Pick a pocket or two" is delicious – recalling his early school register sketch – and he playfully drags out the "r" in "Reviewing the situation" until he sounds like a buzzing bee, waggling his lips with a spindly finger. Endearingly cranky and childish when alone, he delves into his stash of jewels, slips on a tiara and improvises a puppet play between a lah-di-dah string of pearls and diamond choker.

The entire production soft-pedals on menace, grim poverty and child-abusing cruelty, with the exception of Julian Bleach's fantastically ghoulish Mr Sowerberry, a darting adder of an undertaker. Burn Gorman's Bill Sikes fails to chill and the narrative momentum becomes jerky in the second half.

Still, Goold, Mackintosh and choreographer Matthew Bourne don't leave their audience feeling short changed, with a whirling, rumbustious cast of 80 and expanded sets by Anthony Ward. Victorian London – in spite of folks being on their uppers – is quite spectacular. In the police chase where our child hero is on the run, accused of picking pockets, the city becomes a huge mobile maze. Whole towering streets slide around before your eyes, pincering in, merging and criss-crossing. Iron bridges – spanning the proscenium arch – slowly rise and fall as the little lad scurries to and fro. It's like a giant shooting gallery. A little bit scary, a lot a fun.

In Roaring Trade, capitalist greed is all consuming. Steve Thompson's new City drama, premiered by Paines Plough, throws you in with a bunch of arrogant, competitive and surreptitiously cheating bond traders, as the credit crunch looms. There are few surprises here for cynics, and Thompson owes debts to both Caryl Churchill's Serious Money and David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross.

Still, Roxana Silbert's production does generate tension, thanks to sharp acting from Andrew Scott as the viciously needling Donny and Nicholas Tennant as the burnt-out PJ, a veteran heading for a breakdown. Newcomers Christian Roe and Phoebe Waller-Bridge are names to watch.

From 21st-century capitalism, we trundle back to the USSR circa 1977. In Tom Stoppard and André Previn's Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, Joseph Millson's Alexander Ivanov is on hunger strike, incarcerated in a psychiatric hospital for refusing to sing from the Soviet establishment's songsheet. Sharing his cell and surreally his name is a lunatic (Toby Jones) who believes he is in charge of an orchestra and keeps tinkling a triangle. In a schoolroom elsewhere, the dissident's distraught son – yet another Alexander Ivanov – muddles up the rules taught in his geometry class.

Worrying about where to draw the line between ideologies and an individual's identity, unbending belief systems and insanity, EGBDF is a teasing mix of serious issues and batty wordplay. However, as a crossover of theatre and music, it's a flop. The actors share the stage with a 40-strong orchestra only for Previn's score – interrupting the dialogue – to sound sentimental and prolix.

The National Theatre's artistic director, Nicholas Hytner, is keen on experimental hybrids, but the results are hit and miss. This revival does Stoppard no favours. It is co-staged by Tom Morris and Punchdrunk's Felix Barrett, who is good at design-led projects but displays no textual acumen here. Though he can be a brilliant gnome-like clown, Jones is left flailing, and Millson's dignified speeches start to sound ploddingly worthy. As for the interpolated dance sequences, pirouettes and somersaults, as an arty depiction of torture only induce wincing embarrassment.

'Oliver!' (0844 412 2955) booking to 26 Sep; 'Roaring Trade' (0870 429 6883) to 7 Feb; 'EGBDF' (020-7452 3000) to 25 Feb

Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl

First look at Oscar winner as transgender artistfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month

TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel

film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island

Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey


Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower