GT Stage

Review: The Commitments

GT judges the latest West End offering

Based on the book by Roddy Doyle, The Commitments tells the story of a group of young Irish friends starting up their own band. It's all the fun and frivolity of youth: the friendships, battles, politics drinking and sex. Lots of sex, in fact. And its sex with an older man. This may not be a love story, but it has enough DILF action to satisfy those of us with the most profound of father issues.

The Commitments was first released as a novel in 1987, and later as a film in 1991, telling a tale of the music industry from a pre-X Factor age. The band aren't filled with dreams of satisfying Tulisa or covering party hits for Louis, but simply wanting to make music. And get laid.

Not to mention that they tell a poignant tale. The stage adaptation has had the heavy involvement of Doyle, its original writer, and so remains much in the Dublin dialogue, sticking to the original story. It's a potent journey through the lives of working class Dubliners; the optimism of youth, set against the stark realities of Irish life.

The show rip roars through classic songs like one of those Best Of albums you'd play on a country drive. And though The Commitments has too much story and message to simply land it in the pile of juke box musical, it does serve up anthem after anthem, with enough vigour to get the audience up on their feet by the finale.

Unfortunately what it gains in boisterous songs, it loses in tenderness. You're unlikely to leave Soho's Palace Theatre with damp cheeks (unless you've just discovered the wine prices, that is). The show is raucous and exciting at best, but all too frequently it slips into something that feels much less dynamic.

GT gives The Commitments 3/5

Get tickets at The Commitments website.

Words: Benjamin Butterworth.

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