Rosemary Westwell reviews Viva’s Fiddler on the Roof at Granary Barns, Woodditton.

Ely Standard: Viva production of Fiddler on the Roof. Picture: Michael RouseViva production of Fiddler on the Roof. Picture: Michael Rouse (Image: Archant)

Viva’s production of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ was splendid. This well-known story of the trials and tribulations of a Jewish family in a small village at times of hardship was brought alive under the perceptive directorship of Sarah Dowd.

The long-suffering father, Tevye, played by Richard Dodd, tried his best to preserve the stabilising traditions of his people but events and even his own five daughters seemed to turn against him and change his whole world irrevocably.

Nevertheless, his wonderful way of coping, with his frequent Bible quotations and his private conversations with God peppered with lovely moments of humour helped us to survive the anguish and horror of events as they unfolded.

His wife Golde (Samantha Gallop) was the epitome of a Jewish housewife with too much to do fulfilling her household duties to stop and pause to think about the love she has for her husband.

Ely Standard: Viva production of Fiddler on the Roof. Picture: Michael RouseViva production of Fiddler on the Roof. Picture: Michael Rouse (Image: Archant)

The banter between husband and wife was very effective and her outraged cries and variety of facial expressions were phenomenal.

The five daughters and some of their loved ones were all believable characters and we felt their anxiety as they worried about who might be their future husbands. They were Tzeitel (Dresden Goodwin) and the tailor Motel (Oliver Squires), Hodel (Phyllida Hickish) and the young revolutionary Perchik (Mark O’Reilly), Chava (Emma Gilbey) and a brave young man of a different, challenging faith Fyedka (Dylan Caldwell), Bielke (Tara Gilbey) and Sprintze (Elisha Cardwell).

Other characters that shone included the rapid-speaking, busy-body-come matchmaker Yente (Bridget Hickish), the disappointed butcher Lazar Wolf (Frank Crosby), and the unforgettable ghosts: Grandma Tzeitel (Alison Smith) and Fruma Sarah (Anthea Kenna).

Suffice to say the remaining characters, including the marvellous animals, especially the clucking chicken, were all highly credible and vital to the drama.

The live music created the setting perfectly. Timing, orchestration and skill made the familiar, stirring melodies memorable, ranging from the deep sorrow and warmth of ‘Anatevka’ to the uninhibited joy of ‘To Life’ and the ‘Wedding Dance’.

The chorus was strong and the harmony very moving. The dancing was delightful, the choreography developing a sense rhythmic strength and joyful abandonment that seemed oblivious to the small stage.

Different scenes developed some mesmerising atmospheres, especially the opening fiddler playing on the roof, the family’s celebration of the Sabbath and the Tevye’s nightmare.

Costumes, scenery, lighting and sound all helped to make this a wonderful show.

Sarah Dowd, director, Maggie Brackenbridge, producer and stage manager and Jenny Taylor-Surridge, musical director, and their teams are to be congratulated for such a fantastic evening’s entertainment.