Oliver Twist: The Parish Boy’s Progress by Charles Dickens (Focus on the Family Radio Theatre)
Oliver Twist is certainly one of the greatest works of literature written by Charles Dickens. Telling the story of an orphan and his plight through the terrible world of abuse, poverty and near starvation, Dickens sheds new light for the reader concerning the state of London in the 19th century. Often, in the book, we see those most apt to provide little Oliver with shelter, turn out to be those who want to capitalize on his poverty and lack of good family stock. We get a glimpse of this misfortune through the character of Fagin, who as an overseer of pick pockets seeks to provide Oliver with a few good meals in turn for transforming him into a master thief. This Focus on the Family Radio Theatre version of Dickens’ Oliver Twist is an extraordinary recording of a magnificent book.
What I enjoyed most about this audio recording of the book is the way recording particularly brought out the moral dilemma posed inside the mind of Oliver Twist. Each time he is faced with those who think abuse and law breaking is part of way life should be run, Oliver steps back for an instance to ponder the question of right/wrong. The recording brings out the nature of Oliver’s life, that although he was a destitute orphan with nothing to show for, he longs for the affection of a friend, but not at the cost of a friend who seeks to take advantage of his poverty. In particular, the part of Fagin voiced by Henry Goodman was extremely good at grasping the hideousness of a character who sought out boys for the purpose of exploiting their lives for money and jewels. Yet, as the recording bears out, Oliver is somewhat naïve of the way the world works around him even if he knows that these band of nitwits are not the right crowd he should be around.
I think this recording would make a great window into the work of Charles Dickens for those who love literature and for those who aren’t quite sure of picking up a Dickens novel. The cast of men and women who performed the vocal parts were extraordinary at capturing the essence of Dickens and the power of his moral imagination.
Thanks to Tyndale Publishers for the review audio copy of Oliver Twist in exchange for review.