REVIEW - Commitments at Birmingham Hippodrome is 'a good night out' - The Bromsgrove Standard

REVIEW - Commitments at Birmingham Hippodrome is 'a good night out'

Bromsgrove Editorial 25th Apr, 2023 Updated: 25th Apr, 2023   0

‘Do you like good music? That sweet soul music – Just as long as it’s swingin’ – Oh yeah, oh yeah’ as the late great king of souls himself James Brown sang.

Well they certainly did on press night at the Birmingham Hippodrome last night. The soul faithful were there in their droves ready to party – that included me and my eldest son who was my plus one.

Meaning I was expecting reviewing to be a treat and not another night at the office.

Roddy Doyle wrote his novel ‘The Commitments’ back in 1987 and followed that with the screenplay for the 1991 movie directed by the wonderful Alan Parker.

It became a stage show 2013 and ran for two years in the West End. This latest tour was interrupted like so many other shows by Covid and started back again last autumn after a two-year gap.

The Commitments is a rock ‘n” roll fable based in a broken and depressed Dublin where Jimmy Rabitte gathers a bunch of talented misfits together in a mission to create the ultimate Irish soul band.

He nearly succeeds too but as their reputation rises so does the dynamic split, with broken hearts and spirits turning temperamental and artistic differences into all out war.

Nowadays it seems that actors have to be musicians as well and so that limits the pool somewhat. To be fair (as my Irish friends would say) overall the cast of the actual band do a pretty good job at multi-tasking.

Ben Morris is spot on the money as the front man Deco, James Killen engages as Jimmy and Coronation Street legend Nigel Pivaro steals most of the comic scenes with his ‘charm the Lepricorns down from the trees’ as Jimmy’s Dad and caretaker.

I loved the energetic and magnetic bad boy come drummer Billy – outstanding stuff from Ryan Kelly.

On the creatives director Andrew Linnie seemed content to let the numbers be stand alone performances not story continuation and I felt this to be a lost opportunity. Also and admittedly I was seated in the middle balcony, but it was often difficult to see who was speaking when the band were talking at rehearsals and this was alienating.

Tim Blazdell though has a designed a masterpiece of a set. His subtlety of creating confining small spaces made the duologues more memorable than the ensemble work. This was especially true of the two-storey town house that trucked back and forth, in which there was barely room to turn round.

It’s always difficult to compare a film and a stage show but for me the film as a story wins hands hand whilst the show scores as a juke box night out.

The music is rammed full of 50s and 60s classics from The Rolling Stones to Tina Turner, with the biggest cheers saved for the walkdown when the eagerly awaited Mustang Sally gets us on our feet.

The Commitments is a good night out but at the risk of dispelling faint praise – unlike the film I found it shallow and lacking in enough plot to drag me in.

The Commitments runs at the Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday, April 29. Click here for times, tickets and more information.


Review by Euan Rose

Euan Rose Reviews


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