EXCLUSIVE: Brian Cox (Succession), Nicola Coughlan (Bridgerton), Oscar winner Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) and Emilio Villa-Muhammad (The Man Who Fell to Earth) are heading up the all-star cast of Audible Original title Oliver Twist, produced by Oscar winner Sam Mendes (1917).
Released today on Audible, the adaptation of Dickens’ classic will also star Kit Connor (Heartstopper), Paapa Essiedu (I May Destroy You), Julia Davis (Gavin & Stacey), Nick Mohammed (Ted Lasso), Patricia Allison (Sex Education) and Diane Morgan (Motherland).
The classic story follows a young orphan born into the grimmest of 19th century English workhouses, faced with a life of grinding poverty. Despite this, Oliver (Villa-Muhammad) is a fighter and after being evicted from the workhouse for asking for “more” and surviving a stint as an undertaker’s assistant, he walks many miles to London and finds a whole new life with a gang of young pickpockets led by the Artful Dodger (Elijah Wolf) and their guardian Fagin (Cox).
Dangerous thief Bill Sikes will be portrayed by Kaluuya. Nicola Coughlan will play Nancy, Sikes’ girlfriend.
Recorded in Audible’s London studio, the series also features Foley recordings captured in Dickens’ former London house at 48 Doughty Street, in the rooms where he wrote Oliver Twist. The audiobook will also feature an original score from Dan Gillespie-Sells, lead singer of The Feeling and composer of hit West End musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.
Oliver Twist marks the first in a trilogy of Audible Original adaptations of Charles Dickens classics produced by Mendes, with the next title to be released in 2023. All three audio dramas will feature British casts and will be recorded in London, incorporating the sounds of the city.
Cox said: “Dickens was a genius storyteller and Oliver Twist may be his greatest ever work. Reimagining a character as complex and changeable as Fagin offers a real challenge for an actor, and I hope listeners enjoy our telling of this masterpiece.”
Coughlan added: “It was delighted to be asked to play such a seminal role. When I read the script, it struck me that this adaptation gave the character of Nancy more depth and nuance. I hope everyone at home gets all the feels as they come with us on her journey.”
Kaluuya commented: “There are few villains as infamous or terrifying as Bill Sikes, and I really enjoyed getting the chance to record a new take on him for Audible. Keep the lights on – some of his scenes are really dark.”
Mendes said: “Dickens was the ultimate storyteller, and hearing Oliver Twist come to life in such a compelling, 3D way feels exactly how he might have wanted it to be experienced. The cast is fantastic, and I’ve never heard an audio production before that is so filmic. It’s cinema for the ears.”