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Oliver Twist

Published by: Kirstie Niland on 29th Jul 2015 | View all blogs by Kirstie Niland

From The Dukes, Williamson Park, Lancaster

Until Saturday 15th August 2015

Williamson Park is currently alive with the voices of street children as The Dukes transports us back to Dickensian days for a spectacular version of Oliver Twist, retold by Coronation Street scriptwriter, Debbie Oates.

With its magnificent memorial, and landscape created from a disused quarry, Williamson Park’s dark caverns and woodlands beneath a panoramic skyline beautifully reflect the nooks and crannies of Oliver’s journey through a criminal world and out into a bright new future.

The play begins at the foot of the towering Ashton Memorial, where orphan Oliver is thrown out and sold on the open market, before finding himself on the run from Fagin and his young gang of pickpockets.

Yet again The Dukes has created a magical performance out of the natural surroundings, with a strong, unconventional cast, some playing multiple roles, but all adding a Northern, comedy “Twist” to the title.

A female Artful Dodger is played by 4ft 11ins Josie Cerise, who for me was the highlight of The Dukes’ Christmas show Cinderella, as ugly sister Grizelda. Here she plays half of another double act, this time a "Little and Large" one with 6ft 4ins Andrew Ashford as the Dodger's dim-witted sidekick Charley Bates.

Also returning to The Dukes is Russell Richardson as Fagin, shortly after his role as Fanny Hawthorne’s father in Hindle Wakes. Jerome Thompson plays the naive Oliver with an amusing hint of dopiness, while Victoria Brazier’s performance of magistrate Mr Fang draws the biggest laughs.

The audience was full of delighted faces, and even though there are some hairy moments, this version leaves out some of the darker details so that smaller children can enjoy the show too.

Once again The Dukes’ annual summer walkabout has proved the perfect promenade performance - and it’s on until Saturday 15th August so don’t miss it.

Personally I can’t wait for the next one. Please Sir, I want some more!

Photographs: Dan Tierney

Tickets are available from the Dukes Box Office on 01524 598500 or visit



  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 2 years ago
    Thanks, Kirstie. A great review.
  • Kirstie Niland
    by Kirstie Niland 2 years ago
    Every year The Dukes creates something magical on Williamson Park - next year it's The Hobbit!
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