Reviewed by Ann Durrell
Written by Roddy Doyle, The Commitments has made the transition from novel to film to musical faultlessly. Set in North Dublin in the mid 1980’s, The Commitments tells the tale of Jimmy Rabbitte and his vision to put together a group ‘ the hardest working band in Dublin’. Set to a soundtrack of classic 60’s soul and funk classics such as ‘ Mustang Sally, Try a little Tenderness and Proud Mary, it is guaranteed to get you bopping away in your seat.
To try and fulfil his dream of band management, Jimmy puts an advert in the local press advertising for people to come and join his band. The final group of stranger comprises of front man Deco, an obnoxious sleaze who you would probably cross the street to avoid but a show stopping soul voice. The Commitmentettes, three local girls adding the glamour. Joey, an ageing very religious trumpet player who claims to have been stage with everyone from the Beatles to James Brown. Throw in a hot-headed Billy the animal on drums, couple of guitars and a sax and what you have is a cracking band. Tensions soon start to grow, mainly due to Deco’s obnoxious behaviour and also Joey ‘The Lip’ transpiring to be somewhat of a cad!
The cast are awesome, not just do they act well they play their instruments live on the stage. Of course, they all have strong vocal talents. Brian Gilligan gives a sterling performance as Deco, at times he made me shudder with his treatment of the other band members. I am finding it hard to get the image of him stripped down to his graying superman pants out of my head, I may be mentally scarred. I found it hard to take my eyes off Sam Fordhams’ Mickah, band security and part time drums. Fordham played the part as a mix between Sick Boy from Trainspotting and Vyvyan from the Young Ones, he was hilarious! Manchester’s very own Kevin Kennedy stars as Jimmy’s Da, the role does not have many lines but those he had he delivered with just the right level of humour.
This production stays true to the original setting of 1980’s Dublin. Track suits, parkas and ra ra skirts all make an appearance. One of the Commitmentettes was totally channelling her inner Madonna! Staging is very clever, the Rabbitte house is wheeled out on demand and expands for Jimmy’s bedroom. Stage left converts nicely into a local pub for several scenes and there’s the sweet shop and launderette.
This touring performance of The Commitments is not to be missed. Everything about it is on point, I could not fault a thing. Belting out classic funky numbers just makes you want to get up off your feet and onto the dance floor. On Tuesday, there was no dancing in the aisles unfortunately but I would hazard a bet it’s a different story for weekend performances.
Tickets cost from £21.90 to £56.90 (plus £2.85 transaction fee).
The Commitments is at the Palace Theatre in Manchester from 28 March to 8 April 2017, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/palacetheatre or call the box office on 0844 871 3019.
Palace Theatre, 97 Oxford Street, Manchester, M1 6FT | 0844 871 3019