Theater: Oliver Twisted

Oliver! Lionel Bart, 31, is not too proud to help Charles Dickens, Immortal. In "freely adapting" Oliver Twist, Britisher Bart, who wrote book, music and lyrics, has blue-penciled out the socially conscious harshness of Dickens, and mauve-penciled in the timeless hokum of Showland.

Dickens takes the count after approximately two minutes and 35 seconds of the first act. As the curtain goes up on Sean Kenny's somber hewn-wood set, a dozen or so boys are released from their kennel-like pen. They slink up to their empty gruel bowls like wan, spiritless animals. For a long instant, a pang of pathos hangs upon...

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