October 12th 2017
Today I went to see The Fiddler on the Roof Opera. We’ve been to the local operatic production a couple of times in the last year (see:Mikado and Sweet Charity). My paternal Grandad likes to go along but he has no one to go with, so Alice and I accompany him. We were all supposed to go tonight, but he realised late on that he had a diary clash, so we invited my maternal Grandmother. She was thrilled to get an invite — she’s been wanting to go along too, but she’s got no one to go with either.
So Alice, Grandma and I went to Fiddler on the Roof. It was enjoyable, if not slightly tiring. It’s a school night, and I had a long day at work, so I was perhaps not in the best mental state for four hours of operatic performance.
Previous performances we’ve been to had more in the way of grand set design, and intricate set changes between scenes. Fiddler rotated between two sets, and to change between them they just spun a tower round to turn it into a kitchen. The intricacies and cleverness of the set design is what I usually appreciate most about the theatre, and with this production it was… lacking. Mikado had set dressers in literal ninja costumes that transformed the stage, huge lazy susans and all. Fiddler just turned the lights off for slightly too long and let the cast move the stage around. That was slightly disappointing.
I knew fewer songs in Fiddler than in the previous ones, here being “If I was a rich man“, but I only knew that song because I thought it was a Gwen Stefani original, but it turns out it is not.
What I did appreciate about this show, though, was the comedy. The lead character talks to the audience as if he’s talking to God. It’s a kind of theist-fourth-wall-break, and leads to some great comedic moments.
Religion is the backbone of the story, but it’s not preachy. It teaches that religion isn’t set in stone, and the main character adapts his strict Jewish faith to make his daughters happy. I thought that was a good message. If you know the story, you know what I’m on about. If you don’t, then I can’t be arsed to explain.
One gripe I had with the story (spoiler), is that a baby shows up out of nowhere. I don’t remember a time when it was exposed to us that she was pregnant, nor that 9 months had passed. That was poorly managed. Also, the ending is a bit sudden. But it ends on a depressing note (they all get evicted from their homes, and one of the daughters ends up in a Siberian prison), and I’m always a fan of that kind of emotional subversion. It’s still a good message though, because it’s all about choosing love, and everyone ends up with who they want to be with — except the creepy 60+ year old butcher who wants to marry a teenager.
I also don’t really get the significance of the Fiddler, or why the show is called ‘Fiddler on the Roof’. She never says anything, she just stands there, fiddling away. Is it God?
Until tomorrow, I think it might be God.