Focus on the Family Radio Theatre's production of Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens. I never read much Dickens back in my school days (the only two I remember reading are A Christmas Carol and A Tale of Two Cities), so I wasn't really familiar with Oliver's story, other than my vague knowledge that he was an orphan who dared to ask for "more." But being familiar with the quality of Focus on the Family Radio Theatre from their Narnia series, I was excited to have the opportunity to review this production, as well. My expectations were met, and surpassed!
Oliver's story begins when he is born in a workhouse (his mother dies giving birth to him). The first part of his life is very dark and dismal, as he goes from one bad situation to another even worse, and then another . . . finally ending up with a group of pickpockets and thieves, led by the despicable Fagin. From there, Oliver's life begins to improve, when he is wounded and taken in by a kind woman and her adopted daughter. I don't want to give away too much of the story, but this is a tale filled with twists and turns, as much mystery surrounds Oliver's life, and the loose ends of the story aren't wrapped up till the very end!
We started listening to this audio drama as a family, but I soon realized it would be too intense for the kids (ages 8, 6, and 4), so my husband and I listened to the rest by ourselves. Other kids may not be as sensitive as mine are, so use your own judgment. :) The recommended age on the case says 12 years and older. Mine are not bothered at all by violence in a fantasy like Narnia, but it seems different and darker in a tale like Oliver Twist. However, my husband and I were captivated by the story and stayed up way too late a few different nights to listen!
The acting, music and sound effects in this recording are all excellent. I loved the British accents of the characters, and the narrator was fantastic also. This set includes a bonus DVD with behind-the-scenes footage showing how radio theatre is done, which was very interesting as well. Also on the DVD is a documentary about foster care and adoption, which includes a few testimonies/stories from former foster kids, as well as adoptive parents. I love that Focus on the Family has a heart for orphans, and they even have a printed section inside the CD case, telling about several of the foster/adoption ministries that they are a part of.
I highly recommend this dramatization of Oliver Twist. I think it'll make a fantastic addition to a study of the book and/or Dickens when our kids are a bit older. Definitely worth a 5-star rating, in my opinion. Thanks to Focus on the Family for another great production!
**I received a free copy of this set from Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, and all opinions expressed are my own. Thank you, Tyndale, for the chance to review such an excellent set!