Fiddler on the Roof at the Playhouse Theatre
Fiddler on the Roof opens with a rousing tune from the rooftops, but our hero Tevye is not the one who plays the tune, he merely dances to it. The Fiddler is a metaphor for his life as he struggles to stay on top of things while perched in a precarious position.
Milkman Tevye (Andy Nyman) is just about managing to get by, raising five daughters on his meagre earnings, when his horse goes lame and he ends up having to pull his cart himself. He imagines how things might be different in the classic: If I were a Rich Man.
Based on a collection of short stories by Sholem Aleichem, the musical follows the fortunes of a Russian Jewish community in 1905. Tevye’s wife Golde (Judy Kuhn) is approached by a matchmaker who knows of a wealthy old widower looking for a bride. The sisters have other ideas, and end up defying their father, a religious man who is a stickler for “Tradition” – a song whose title is a recurring theme in the show.
The eldest daughter Tzeitel (Molly Osborne) manages to escape an arranged marriage, after timid tailor Motel (Joshua Gannon) steps up as her suitor, and the couple’s wedding takes place to a moving chorus of Sunrise, Sunset.
The second eldest daughter Hodel (Harriet Bunton) falls for idealistic student Perchik (Stewart Clarke) whose revolutionary ideas for a better future are cold comfort when he is exiled to Siberia. Tevye is less forgiving of Chava (Nicola Brown) when she elopes with an outsider who does not share the family’s religious faith.
In the final scene, the fiddler falls silent after the villagers become the target of a purge, a pogrom, and are forced to leave their homes on the orders of the Tsar. Gathering their meagre belongings, the villagers trudge slowly through the snow, each to his own path. The musical ends on a mournful note, with this once-close community facing the winds of change and being blown apart.

Fiddler on the Roof is showing at the Playhouse Theatre until 28 September.