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Love in the time of Russian pogroms





Kennet Amateur Theatrical Society: Fiddler on the Roof at Kennet School, Thatcham from Thursday, February 15, to Saturday, February 17. Review by TONY TRIGWELL-JONES

KATS Fiddler on the Roof Pic: Mikaela Wild
KATS Fiddler on the Roof Pic: Mikaela Wild

NEVER a company to shy away from a challenge, last week Thatcham’s KATS presented their staging of Stein, Bock and Harnick’s multi-award winning musical Fiddler on the Roof.

Set in a fictional village, just outside Kyiv during the Russian pogroms of 1905, the play centres on Tevye, an impoverished milkman whose faith is challenged by the external forces of modernity and the forthcoming revolution.

With the combined spirits of Zero Mostel and Chaim Topol weighing heavy on his shoulders, David Richardson had big shoes to fill as our Tevye.

KATS Fiddler on the Roof Pic: Mikaela Wild
KATS Fiddler on the Roof Pic: Mikaela Wild

His interpretation drew out the gentler nature of the patriarch, which was perfect in the more comic and touching moments of the play.

This was especially effective in the second half as he and his wife Golde (played with beautiful credibility by Siouxsie Ashmore) had to come to terms with their daughter Chava’s marriage to a Russian gentile.

The three older sisters (Chava, Tzeitel and Hodel) who cause Tevye such strife, shone in their first musical number Matchmaker, which really leapt off the stage.

Ceri Lawrence (Chava) and Jenny Woolf (Hodel) both gave engaging performances on the night, portraying complex characters with sensitivity and humour.

KATS Fiddler on the Roof Pic: Mikaela Wild
KATS Fiddler on the Roof Pic: Mikaela Wild

Fiona Sinsbury was equally commanding as Tzeitel, being the first to cross her father’s insistence on tradition.

Her marriage to Motel (played by Billy Wild) was performed with warmth and generosity by the pair, overcoming any awkwardness.

Kayleigh Dibble (Yente) and Nick Saunders (Lazar Wolf) provided comic relief with assured professionalism, while Joe Rollinson’s Perchik and Andrew Smith’s Fyedka brought kindness and compassion to their roles.

KATS Fiddler on the Roof Pic: Mikaela Wild
KATS Fiddler on the Roof Pic: Mikaela Wild

The company consciously chose to play down the political elements of the original, opting instead to highlight the themes of love and friendship in difficult times.

This certainly came across in Mike and Gemma Cole’s thoughtful direction and choreography of this large and enthusiastic community ensemble.

From the well-considered programme notes and the backstage antics on TikTok, to the polished professionalism shown throughout the performance on the night,

KATS Fiddler on the Roof Pic: Mikaela Wild
KATS Fiddler on the Roof Pic: Mikaela Wild

KATS’ infectious delight in their work makes them a joy to behold.



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