After an extensive delay to the show, a restless audience were finally allowed into the auditorium. I was happy to be seeing the show so I wasn’t too bothered by the delay personally.
I had been telling my friend all about The Commitments film (he’s never seen it!), so from my excited babble I think he was slightly excited to see the show, as was i!
The story is set in Dublin in 1985, Jimmy (Andrew Linnie) dreams of managing a successful soul band and sets about putting one together. He auditions many prospective band members in his dad’s (Kevin Kennedy) living room, much to ‘Da’s’ disgust…”shite!”.
Finally getting some semblance of a group together including Deco (Brian Gilligan) the soulful lead singer, Joey ‘The Lips’ (Alex McMorran) the bible bashing trumpeter and his girl singers Natalie (Amy Penston), Imelda (Leah Penston) and Bernie (Christina Tedders). The group has a slow rise to fame in various working clubs, before inevitable in-fighting tears them apart.
With far more songs being sung on stage than was in the film, it felt more ‘Soul Train the Musical’ than The Commitments we know and love. It seemed messy at times, feeling rushed through, there was too much going off on stage to enable you to concentrate fully and there was a distinct lack of favourite numbers. I often looked around at the audience, as I like to get a feel of the atmosphere, and it seemed a bit flat, as if we were expecting more.
The girls voices were absolutely phenomenal for each song they performed and Brian Gilligan truly has a soulful voice and played slobby letch Deco very well. By far the saving grace was the finale, which I won’t give away, but Andrew Linnie managed to gee up the audience and have us singing – even dropping a joke about the delayed start.
It was ok, the film was brilliant and I have seen it many times, I am not sure it has transferred well to the stage. It hasn’t inspired my friend to watch the film, despite my insistence that it’s different to what we have seen tonight.
Packed full of familiar soul classics, The Commitments is now on at Theatre Royal.
Good – The finale was uplifiting
Bad – Did the delayed start contribute to underwhelmed atmosphere?
Photo Credit : Johan Persson