Fagin has been described as one of literature’s most controversial villains. Some love him and some see him as nothing more than a common thief. In Fagin’s Last Hour James Hyland presents the character as a condemned man preparing to meet his end.
Brother Wolf’s productin reimagines Dicken’s Oliver Twist and instead tells the story completely from Fagin’s point of view an hour before his execution.
It has to be said that James Hyland is a brilliant story teller. The show may be called Fagin’s Last Hour but we’re treated to appearances from Oliver, The Artful Dodger, Bill Sykes, Nancy and even Sykes’ faithful dog, Bullseye, and yet believe it or not this is a one-man show.
With just a turn of the shoulder James can transform effortlessly between the characters and, as long as you’re familiar with the original story, you know exactly who he’s meant to be portraying at any given moment.
Each characterisation was simply perfect and it’s not hard to see why his Fagin is critically acclaimed.
This production raises an interesting conversation about the issues with class and crime and punishment. We all know that Fagin isn’t exactly what you would call a saint, but in his desperate hour he questions whether his fate would be the same should he have been a richer man.
Society has of course progressed since the times of Dicken’s Victorian London, but you naturally begin to draw comparisons between then and now and wonder how much has really changed.
Our media is constantly reporting how the crime and punishment system is unable to touch the wealthy (with even the likes of Disney’s Pixar making pops in their recent films). Now I’m of course not defending the character or his actions, but you cannot help but wonder if Fagin had enough money to throw at the system would he have still ended up swinging in the gallows?
Fagin’s Last Hour is another interesting and thought provoking production from Brother Wolf which will leave you questioning the world around you. These productions are certainly more than just entertainment as they have a fantastic way of taking some of history’s darkest hours and forcing you to question whether or not these issues are still hiding deep within our society.
Brother Wolf was established in 1998 by Artistic Director James Hyland and has produced award-winning theatre, TV, film and radio productions.
For more information on Fagin’s Last Hour or any of Brother Wolf’s other productions head to their official website.
Photography by Jeni Clegg.