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Review: The Commitments ****

Michael Cox reviews a production that might be thin on plot and character but is rich in 'spine-tingling energy and passion'.

Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments was a literary and cinematic sensation. And yet, as it’s about a band, it seems rather odd that it’s taken this long to finally see it adapted for the stage.

For those not in the know, the action follows a group from Dublin who form a band that specialises in Soul music. Managed by Jimmy, who acts as much as a cheerleader as he does the intellectual brains, the band go from clueless amateurs to professional contenders, all while personalities clash and financial desperation looms—it is the unforgiving 80s after all.

As a play, what’s on stage is fairly thin. While the book and film allowed each character to have a convincing story and rich personality, this stage version doesn’t have the time or scope to allow more than a handful to rise above type. Any storyline outside the band itself is all but abandoned in favour of spending time with the music.

But what brilliant music it is. And there is no denying the fact: it sounds glorious performed live. Any lack of character or plot is more than made up for, particularly with the final set of songs, all of which are performed with spine-tingling energy and passion.

The Commitments is at the Theatre Royal until December 30 before continuing it’s UK tour. It is at the Edinburgh Playhouse from February 27 to March 4, 2017.

Tags: theatre music

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