Review: The Commitments at the Marlowe Theatre

For those that haven’t seen the original movie, The Commitments is set in 1980’s Dublin.

Jimmy Rabbitte, a young working class lad, is asked to put together a band by two failing musicians and, as a massive music fan who’s dreamed of putting together a band, he accepts.  Full of Irish humour, (Irish language) and LOTS of singing, this incredible musical by Roddy Doyle will take you right back to the 80’s-when soul was just that-soul.

Including a large proportion of original dialogue and songs, throughout the first half of the show, the struggles of Jimmy auditioning some awful artists, eventually choosing his “stars”, then his struggle to get the venues to showcase his talented band, are played out perfectly.

Played by Andrew Linnie, Jimmy is confident, demanding the stage and moving constantly, sometimes from set to set, to direct his “band” or gather advice from his Da’.

At the forefront of Jimmy’s band is Declan “Deco”.  Played by Brian Gilligan,  ‘Deco’ is a flippant performer, with no idea of how to conduct himself.  Regardless of this, he manages to make the audience forget any of his negative traits, by singing with the soul and grace this show demands.

Flanked (but often overwhelmed) by the three “Commitment-ettes”, Bernie (played by Christina Tedders), Imelda (played by Leah Penston) and Natalie (played by Amy Penston) the talented ensemble continue to blow the audience away with, what can only be described as an incredible musical treat.  The voices of these performers, the melodies they produce together-does nothing less than blow the audience away.

Star of Coronation Street Kevin Kennedy, plays Jimmy’s Da’, and doubles up as a caretaker half way through the performance-in which he has to play both characters with an Irish accent.  Unfortunately, more often than not, this slips back to his natural Northern accent, but thankfully he isn’t in major scenes, so this doesn’t take the enjoyment away from any part of the show.

The set is constantly changed and moved around in the background, with ease and without effect on current scenes.  Props are seamlessly changed and moved into position by many of the main cast-those props adding to the 80’s feel.

80’s soul music is performed in abundance-classics such as; ‘What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted’, ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ and ‘Mustang Sally’, are played with wild vigour and non-stop energy, and during the curtain call-a personal touch is added with a final few performances being delivered for the ‘real life’ audience.

Ending with Otis Redding’s Try A Little Tenderness-the majority of the audience were out of their seats, dancing and clapping along-still standing for an ovation when the final song had ended.

The Commitments is at The Marlowe Theatre until Saturday 25th March-tickets can be purchased here

By Jemma Willson