Charles Dickens’ most political novel, the iconic Oliver Twist, is updated for today as a young Nigerian orphan begins an epic search for family and home.
Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist is a powerful indictment of child poverty and exploitation, as relevant now as when it was written. A young orphan’s epic search for family and home lies at the heart of award-winning writer Ayeesha Menon’s radical updating of Dickens’ story to modern-day Nigeria and the refugee journey to Britain.
Directed by acclaimed theatre director Michael Buffong, this classic story is reimagined as a powerful and moving drama for today.
Ogoniland, rural Nigeria. Ten-year-old Oli plays with best friend Mene. Innocent games against a background of fear because, the next day, the oil company are coming to take their land. When the villagers fight back, many of them are killed - leaving Oli and Mene as orphans who only have each other.
They have to find work to survive at a mining camp run by ruthless Tinube. Ambitious documentary-maker Jann persuades Oli to take him down the mine to film, but Tinube is furious and locks Oli away. When Oli is released, he discovers Mene has been sold and taken away, and he is left truly alone.
Oli’s journey to find his best friend leads him to Lagos where a chance meeting with streetwise Dodger and his gang sparks a series of events that none of them can outrun.
Oli - Jordan Nash
Young Mene - Maryam Drammeh
Agnes - Bisola Elizabeth Alabi
Saro - Charles Venn
Tinubu - Danny Sapani
Pastor Solomon - Cyril Nri
Mene - Tamara Lawrance
Miss Saffron Hill - Jocelyn Jee Esien
Jann - Alexander Campbell
Kwame - Alfie Nash
Mrs Solomon -Jumoke Fashola
Noah - Samuel Adebayo
Dodger - Nifemi Bankole
Bet - Nina Cassells
The children in the mine are played by Ethan Langley, Isiah Adeyeye, Marvellous Aigbedion and Saria Joye
Adapted by Ayeesha Menon
Produced by Gill Parry
Directed by Michael Buffong
Music by Tunde Jegede
Sound design by David Thomas and Steve Bond
Photography by The Masons
Development concept written by Silas Parry
Cultural Advisor: Onassis Andem
Sound Interns: Makee Ogbon and Kairon Edwards
Production Interns: Samantha Mandaza and Jayesh Fernando
Production Manager: Sarah Tombling
Executive Producer: John Scott Dryden
A CONNECTfilm production for BBC Radio 4
You are at the first episode