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Hannah Millbank got into the Christmas spirit, with the Tobacco Factory’s raucous Christmassy take on the Dickens’ classic Oliver Twist

“Please sir, I want some more?” We couldn’t have put it better ourselves as we left the intimate setting of the Tobacco Factory theatre after a wild ride through Brizzol’s streets. And going by the plentiful whoops and crescendo of stamping feet as the cast of seven took their bows, we weren’t the only ones who would have hungrily demanded more.

From the depths of “Bemmo” (Bedminster) home to the city’s “riff-raff”, to the heights of “Clif-Ton” where the “posh people” gather, this Bristolian version of Oliver Twist brought a whole load of laughter, some emotional tears and a dramatic climax to North Street’s famous theatre.

Defender Nyanhete as Oliver (Photo Camilla Adams)

With its handful of actors and minimalist set, this delightful production turns a classic story into a modern tale. Against a backdrop of a cost-of-living crisis and a country still reeling from a challenging few years, the story of orphaned Oliver and his ragamuffin friends didn’t feel as far-removed as the Victorian novel version does.

And yet, despite the odd dig at criminal corporates and unfeeling politicians (which raised a round of applause from the stalls), our spirits were lifted as a story of unlikely friendship, and even unlikelier family, unfolded before us.

Really really cool Alex Heane (Photo Camilla Adams)

According to our nine-year-old, the guitar-wielding, synthesiser-playing, shiny-track-suit wearing musician was “really, really cool”, while our seven-year-old declared “this is brilliant” as the first act drew to a close. From an adult’s perspective, the script has the perfect mix of charming characters, family-friendly silliness and insider jokes that may leave visitors to the city scratching their heads.

While there was a festive feel about the whole show, this was far from the cheesy pantomimes which are a firm favourite with many families at Christmas. And yet, the seedy cabaret solos sung by Ms Fagan and Dodger’s crumb-spitting lines as he wolved down Jammy Dodgers while introducing Oliver to his motley kid crew, ensured there was plenty of giggling from the multi-aged audience throughout.

Dan Gaisford as Bill Sykes (Photo: Camilla Adams)

The thing I always love about productions at the Tobacco Factory is how close to the action the small audience feels. As they danced and sang and made eye contact with each of us, it took no time for us to become wholly invested in their stories, both collectively and individually.

Down-and-out Nancy’s warm heart shone through, the loneliness of privileged Mrs Brownlow is palpable, while Dodger swaggers through Bristol pickpocketing purses in Castle Park and revelling in views of the Suspension Bridge from the top of a tower block south of the river. Even Bill, the malevolent east-end gangster, had us on the edge of our seats as we waited to learn his fate at the story’s conclusion.

Tom Fletcher as Dodger (Photo: Camilla Adams)

But, it was Beverley Rudd as Ms Fagan (pictured top) who stole the show for me. I won’t give too much away – suffice it to say that a one-way ticket to Benidorm doesn’t quite work out as she plans.

Without a doubt, I’d watch this again (and again). It had all the makings of a perfect festive outing, complete with Jammy Dodgers and mulled wine served up in the theatre bar. We left with a big smile on our face – a smile that got even bigger as Oliver himself gave our youngest a ‘high five’ as we passed him on our way out. What could be a higher praise, than to be left wanting ‘more please sir’.

Oliver Twist is at the Tobacco Factory until 21 January. Tickets start at £12. Recommended for 7+.