I have been the proudest of mammas watching Jemima over the years, but her most recent venture has taken me to depths and heights that I’d never thought I’d see.
A dancer’s career is brutal. It’s a tough competitive industry, work is sporadic, and it is physically punishing. You need so many things to be in your favour. You need to be talented. You need to be lucky. You need to work your little socks off. And you need to be nice to everyone. As my son reminded me recently, in “the biz” there are not 6 degrees of separation, probably only 1 or 2.
Jemima is talented. Very. But having watched her graduation show last year, yes so are her other 49 co-graduates.
Lucky? Yes, you can be the most talented dancer in the world, but if your face or look is not what the director has in mind, or if funding can’t be obtained, or if the mix of dancers doesn’t quite work…..
So when the early stages of Fagin’s Twist began, and Jem was reading for the part of Oliver, I could see that the role was maybe a really promising one for her. She has a vulnerable quality, a fragility and naivety that is very endearing. And which is key to the character of Oliver.
Choreographer Tony Adigun likes to take risks. His retelling of the tale we all think we now so well comprised a small and multi-functional cast, an amazing versatile set, some powerful emotion-stirring music, and a narrative that even included some spoken text. Modern dance is often a bit wafty and ephemeral, but Fagin’s Twist has recognisable characters that we can relate to, a story with a beginning, middle and an end, and the audience can’t help but be engaged.
During the early stages of the show being created, I’d been intrigued at how they used the words of Dickens original text to inspire and develop movements. The final version (I say final, every time I see it , it’s been changed a bit….!) still has the odd nod to the famous movie musical, with a bit of Food, Glorious Food, Consider yourself one of the family, and always wanting more. The thumbs-in-braces swagger, the pocket-picking, the top hats and pocket watch, all add colour and content to the story.
I’d first seen it at The Lowry in Manchester, and was just blown away by it. So I was keen to come to see in in London, at The Place, where I’ve seen many of Jemima’s performances, and who were very important in the funding and promotion of the work.
Jemima’s picture was front and centre of the poster which was appearing everywhere – my cousin even posted on Facebook when he’d seen it at a tube station – I think that’s a bit of an iconic defining moment.
Inside (and outside) The Place she was on posters, videos, she even made it onto the wine list!
The decor in the bar area was lovely –
top hats dangling above the bar, Dickens black and white pictures on the wall, pocket watches on the pillars, a quill pen to write your comments with, graffiti decals, and the old black and white movie version on loop.
I’d managed to get there in time to see it on Thursday evening. Made the mistake of getting off at Holborn (cos that’s where her poster is!), when really Euston or Kings Cross are closer.
And I also went to the Saturday matinee. Had a lovely pub lunch at The Doric Arch at Euston – highly recommended.
The show was just amazing. I loved listening to the audience chatting during the interval and afterwards, and how genuinely excited they had been by it. It has come to the end of this London run, still a few more dates in the next couple of weeks, and some possibilities for the future are in discussion.
The cast members are all sweeties, I’ve been privileged to get to know them more each time I visit. They and Tony and all the backstage and wardrobe etc crew deserve a huge round of applause, a standing ovation, and a resounding 5 stars.