Based on the BAFTA-Winning 1991 Film ‘The Commitments’ from the 1987 book by Dublin-born Roddy Doyle, this is a tale of down-at-heel Dubliners who form a band.
‘The Commitments’, which comes to Manchester after a successful two-year West End run, tells the story of Jimmy, played by Andrew Linnie, a young working class music fan living in the poor Dublin North side in 1986.
Jimmy auditions a group of like-minded teenagers desperate to find fame a fortune to form a soul band, The Commitments.
The steady stream of musicians and singers arriving at Jimmy’s Dad’s house, after reading his advertisement in the local paper, is one of the funniest and most memorable scenes from the film.
This is where we first meet Kevin Kennedy as Jimmy’s Da/Caretaker. Kevin is best known for his role as Curly Watts and there was a following of ex and current members of Coronation Street in the audience.
After band practice, the 10-piece band with the three girl singers comes together for their first performance at the local pub decorated for Christmas with locals donning Santa hats.
This is the first time we hear the band for the first time all together and they hit the audience with some of the twenty-plus soul classic numbers like ‘Night Train’, ‘Try A Little Tenderness’, ‘River Deep, Mountain High’, ‘In The Midnight Hour’, ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’, ‘Mustang Sally,’ ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’, ‘Knock On Wood’. Brian Gilligan is superb as Deco, possessing charisma and vocal talent as the lead singer of the band.
Amy Penston, (Natalie) Leah Penston (Imelda) and Christina Tedders (Bernie) sing the Supremes ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ on’ with a lovely Irish accent.
The next gig is at the local community centre but, as many a band, they have some fallings out. Sam Fordham as the band’s skinhead security man, Mickah, jumps onto the drums like Animal from the Muppets to save the day.
Set designer Soutra Gilmour’s colour-drained set with the local pub, a launderette, and a video rental shop gives that down-at-heel 1980’s feel.
If you haven’t seen the film, or read the book, this brilliant show will make you want to and, whether you have or you haven’t, the Commitments, ‘the hardest working band in the world’ certainly earn their title tonight with a series of fantastic soul classics that are guaranteed to give anyone who goes to see it a brilliant night out.
The Commitments is on at the Palace Theatre in Manchester until Saturday April 8th.
For tickets and information phone the box office on 0844 871 3019 or go to atgtickets.com