Bristol Post

The Commitment­s

Bristol Hippodrome ★★★★✩


WHEN Roddy Doyle’s 1987 novel The Commitment­s was filmed four years later with songs mainly from the 1960s added, it met with only moderate success. Since then it has developed a strong cult following, many of whom turned out in force to cheer the stage version home in the Bristol Hippodrome.

This story of the rise and fall of a band formed from the working class people of Dublin’s Northside, by a young music fanatic, now has as much musical content as dialogue, with 22 full numbers and parts of

16 others, all of which are performed with tremendous gusto by the 13-strong principals and seven ensemble members.

The change of balance obviously appealed to the majority of the first night audience, but there was a dissenting minority who felt that those gritty working class roots which are so essential to the developmen­t of the relationsh­ips within the story were loosened by the musical dominance of Andrew Linnie’s production. You certainly cannot blame the cast if there is any truth in that statement, they took some strongly created characters right into the heart of the numbers.

They were headed by Ian McIntosh belting out number after number full of vocal energy, as the realistica­lly dislikable egotistica­l lead singer of the group, Deco, and Ciara Mackay, Eve Kitchingma­n, and Sarah Gardiner, who not only created three very believable characters, but formed a singing trio worthy of top spot on their own.

Living up to the show’s name the remainder of the principals gave fully committed performanc­es combining the task of telling the story with the playing of the music. Hidden away were MD Adam Smith and four other musicians who ensured that the big sounds required to keep the music in the style of the period was never missing. Tim Blazdell’s sometimes deliberate­ly grubby, unkempt looking sets and Alice Lessing’s equally deliberate­ly cheap-looking costumes also helped to place the story in the right time and place.

At the end the cast appeared to be as reluctant to vacate the stage as the audience, excepting that dissenting minority, were to let them go, but in the end after several encores they departed with a rip roaring Otis Redding-style presentati­on of not a 1960s song, but one composed in 1932 – Try A Little Tenderness.

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 ?? ?? The Commitment­s runs at Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday
The Commitment­s runs at Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday

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