🎭 The Commitments
📍 The Lyric, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Royal Parade, Plymouth, Devon, PL1 2TR
🗓 Monday 23rd January 2023
A LOT OF SOUL BUT NO HEART
Last night I was back at the Theatre Royal Plymouth for my first press night at the theatre of 2023. I was there for The Commitments. I have never seen the 1991 movie that the musical is based on but I am a fan of many of the songs featured so I was really looking forward to the show. Unfortunately I left the theatre disappointed and here's why.
The story itself was extremely weak. A basic story about a guy who starts a band, but not much else really happens at all. There is no real hook or theme that runs through and honestly I found it quite boring. There were a few moments that created a few titters, a ripple of a giggle, but nothing memorable. I was shocked to learn that the book is written by the same person who wrote the novel and the screenplay.
When conflict happened in the band, I thought that there would be a bit more excitement but even the fight scenes were lacklustre and not well staged.
I hoped that the music would be enough to save the show for me, but I also found this fairly lacking. The musicians were talented and the singers were ok, but I kept wanting more. More tempo, more depth, more excitement.
One thing that I did enjoy was that the music was not over-produced. This meant that when they performed it was like you were watching a local band rather than a musical theatre production and that was quite effective.
The acting on the most part was good, but as I said, because the story was so lacking for me I was completely disengaged by the end of Act 1.
Unfortunately I thought that the main part of Deco had been miscast. Ian McIntosh did have good characterisation and was a good singer, but his voice was completely wrong for the part. I wanted a real gravely, raspy voice to handle these soulful songs and unfortunately his vocals didn't deliver this.
The standout vocal for me came from Sarah Gardiner and I really wish that I had heard more of her fantastic vocals. When she sang River Deep Mountain High during the finale she rocked the theatre and the entire audience erupted with well deserved applause.
The finale was the best bit of the production in my opinion. It was a bit like being at a gig and the whole audience were on their feet dancing, but then they were instructed to! The mistake that was made in the finale was that Try a Little Tenderness was the very last song. We'd had three high-energy songs but this particular song has a very long and slow start, so although I agree that it should have been included in the show, I feel it was an inappropriate time for it.
Overall this show wasn't for me and my high expectations were dashed. My guest disliked it so much that he didn't re-enter the auditorium to watch the second act!
I must say though that many others in the audience seemed to enjoy the show and the two ladies sat next to me absolutely loved it. Maybe it was my high expectations, but this production failed to deliver on so many levels for me.
The acting capabilities, set design and costumes were great and worked well within the production.
It's important to remember that these are just the views of one reviewer and I'm sure there will be many that disagree with me. I expect this to be true of all my reviews whether they are negative or positive. That's the beauty of theatre and life would be very boring if we all liked the same things!
If you are a fan of the movie and the music then I expect that you will enjoy this show so it's definitely worth booking if this is you.
There is a local band here called Joey the Lips, who base themselves on The Commitments and have even named themselves after one of the characters. I personally would rather go to a pub and watch them than see this musical again, but again this is just my personal opinion.
The Commitments continues at Theatre Royal Plymouth until Saturday 28th January and most shows have limited availability. The best availability is for Friday evening and the matinee performances on Thursday and Saturday. Head to www.theatreroyal.com to book tickets.
All views are my own and I pride myself on being open, honest and free from influence.
My tickets for this performance were gifted by Theatre Royal Plymouth who invited me to the Press Night to review the production.
The mission of Theatre Royal Plymouth is to develop and deepen people's engagement with pioneering creativity in Plymouth and the South West, delivering experiences that spark delight, expression and fulfilment. The venue is the principle home of the performing arts in the South West.