I thought I'd never buy anything from Focus on the Family, but the production is really good. Fans of British sitcoms will recognize actor Geoffrey Palmer as Mr. Brownlow. He played Lionel Hardcastle in As Time Goes By (1992-2002) with Judi Dench. Of course, all the voice actors do an outstanding job communicating the intrigue, sarcasm, moral conflicts, and social inequalities of the novel.
However, the production does reflect an additional, curious irony: lots of violence, but no cussing. In the book, Oliver suffers physical and psychological abuse as an orphan, a child laborer, and a child criminal. The audio presentation is unsparing in its depiction of this sadistic underworld of Industrial England, but don't expect the novel's occasional profanity.
Most of the time, the intensity of the criminal characters, such as Fagin, Monks, and Bill Sikes, covers the fact that all the actors are minding their verbal manners, but it does seem odd that Mr. Bumble isn't allowed to famously protest "...the law is a ass --a idiot," (sic). Instead, Focus on the Family uses the lesser known novel quote "...the law is a bachelor..."
At any rate, the five CDs include an interpretive foreword and afterword, which serve as bookends of the Radio Theatre production. There's also a DVD of a behind-the-scenes look, as well as a documentary about the "modern day Olivers" of the foster care system. The set makes a great gift --for yourself, as well as someone else.
I've listened to several of Focus on the Family's radio theatre dramatizations of classic novels and, while all are excellent, Oliver Twist is definitely their best production yet. It has the elements that make FOF's dramatizations so good: top notch voice actors and sound effects. But what makes this one better is the length -- 5 full CDs. Before now FOF has kept their dramas to just 2 CDs, occasionally 3, which sometimes makes for too much abridgement (I'm thinking in particular of Les Miserables). But with Oliver Twist they gave wider scope, including more of the story so that even someone who has never read Dickens' novel will have no trouble following or understanding the storyline.
Dickens' novels are always peopled with characters who are, though interesting and often quirky, nevertheless one-dimensional. The same is true with Oliver Twist; even the main character Oliver himself has just one mood which never changes from the beginning of the novel until the end. (The one exception is Nancy; she is that rarity among Dickens' characters, someone who is conflicted and more than one-dimensional). But FOF's dramatization is so good and the actors so talented that they manage to make the listener almost forgive and forget the flatness of the characters they're portraying.
Even the packaging of this book is far better than anything FOF has done before, with brief bios and photos of the main actors.
Another wonderful production by Focus on the Family.
This is a tough story; so you hang on waiting to see how things work out for Oliver.
The only down side to all of their stories is that some voices are used from story to story and sometimes my brain jumps to the wrong story because the voice is so strongly associated with another character from another story.
The voice of Dietrich will always be Dietrich regardless of where I hear it. :) The same with the voice of Corrie Ten Boom.
Focus on the Family's production of Oliver Twist is phenomenal - definitely for audiences ages twelve and up - but phenomenal. All of my tweens/teens loved this story. The characters are portrayed beautifully and the music/sound effects are flawless. We just finished it today, and my kids are ready to start it all over again . . . and to be honest with you, so am I. Great story - wonderful production!
Another absolutely splendid job by FOcus on the Family Radio Theatre. Amazing acting and sound effects. Even my seven year old was held, and the story is a little complicated as you know if you are familiar with it. It is fairly intense, so we talked about it together, and my ten year old got the most out of it. I would recommend it for 9 or 10 and up since I feel that age child can really deal with and appreciate all of the issues presented. I looked forward to listening every day as we drove to school and was sad when it was over. Really well done.
Any production from Focus on the Family Radio Theatre is high quality. Although I have seen the 1968 film, I have never read the actual book so I don't know how closely this dramatization follows the original. A little surprised that Ron Moody (Fagen from the film) wasn't cast as Fagen for this production as he has done work for other Focus on the Family radio dramas. 5 1/2 hours of listening helps make time in my car more enjoyable.
We have many, if not all, of the Focus on the Family Radio Theatre productions. They are great quality productions. Long car rides don't seem so long anymore. Great for plane trips too. I find myself putting one on when I craft when I don't want to listen to music.
I love pretty much anything produced by Focus on the Family Radio Theatre. The quality is always excellent and I don't need to worry about the content. I have fallen in love with Charles Dickens' writing style through Oliver Twist, which is saying something I suppose. I don't know many 19 year olds who enjoy books written over a century ago. I would definitely recommend this to someone else!
I bought this for my sister for her birthday but I fell in love with it instead! I marked it as liked because it can be quite a stearn drama (murder and thieving) so I do not recomend this for twelve and under but it a wonderful tale especially if you've read Dickens.