Tonight has been a very interesting evening. Firstly, I must apologise for this review before I even begin to write it as it can not be as in-depth and as thorough as I would have liked it to be. This is because of two incredibly rude, intoxicated ‘ladies’ seated in front of us who spoke loudly and continuously, so thank you to those fine examples of how to NOT behave in a theatre – prepare for a blog about this at another time.
Now that is off my chest, I can return to reviewing the show. Overall I was impressed and enjoyed what is a ingenious musical which cleverly tells the dramatic tale of a period of Bob Marley’s life through a fine balance of incorporating his original music and adapting it to give an almighty ‘musical theatre’ feel. It is a tribute to his life and his music that brought joy to the world.
My expectations were highest for Mitchell Brunings who tackles the hardest role in the show, Bob Marley himself and boy did he deliver! It would be hard to differentiate between Brunings and Marley himself if you were to close your eyes and listen.
Rita Marley is realistically and respectably portrayed by Alexia Khadime, who I recently saw slaying a dragon in Sleeping Beauty in Hackney. A role which the audience holds a lot of sympathy for as Bob’s story continues to unfold. Opposite Alexia is Cat Simmons as Cindy, his other lover. I originally saw Cat in Oliver on tour as Nancy and wasn’t overly impressed but tonight altered my opinion hugely as her voice is like an angels as it floats through the theatre.
There are some great comedy moments in this show too, particularly from Marley’s closest friend Pablo, played by Eric Kofi Abrefa who seems to be at ease in this role. The biggest laugh of all though has to be Alex Robertson’s dancing as record producer Chris Blackwell, despite his characterisation and overall performance falling rather flat.
For me, the highlights of this show are the ensemble numbers. I have never seen such a high-energised bunch who make it evidently clear that they love what they are doing and fully believe in the show and what it stands for. They leap on to the stage and show you exactly what ‘Jammin’ is. For me, the standing ovation was for them and so bravo to Taofique Folarin, Martina Isibor, Melissa James, Lemuel Knights, Tanisha Spring, Ellena Vincent and Marcquelle Ward.
Tonight was still a preview performance and the show does not officially open until Wednesday but it was still blaring obvious at parts that the cast are unprepared with lines and staging. Although the show itself is very fast paced, some scenes lagged behind as actors were having to correct themselves over stumbled lines – something which I do not expect, even in previews. Of course this will eventually be wiped out, hopefully.
The production elements of this show are uniquely striking and set a strong backbone for the piece as it incorporates well-designed intelligent lighting and incredibly high-quality video design which combines together with the simple scenery to create a visual that is simple yet pleasingly effective.
This is a show that could easily be toured across the country as it is a remarkable tribute to the life of Bob Marley and his music that shaped a generation. But please, make no mistake that this is a musical and not a concert so read up on theatre etiquette if you don’t already know.
★★★★ remarkable musical tribute of Bob Marley‘s story, ingeniously told.
‘One Love – The Bob Marley Musical’ runs at the Birmingham Rep until Sat 15 April. For tickets, click here.