Review Roundup: Jamie Lloyd's COMMITMENTS
Let's see what the critics had to say:
Michael Coveney of whatsonstage.com writes: I loved the Alan Parker movie, and I loved the novel, Roddy Doyle's first, but I have mixed feelings about the new stage musical of The Commitments, which combines elements of both but somehow doesn't fly off the stage with any great theatrical pezazz in Jamie Lloyd's hard-working production... Partly this is due to the fact that nothing much happens, partly because the book by Doyle himself is too faithful to his own dialogue, which reads better than it sounds (Parker and Doyle's screenplay was boosted by the duo of Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais), and the one significant component of the movie - sheer joy - is lacking.
Henry Hitchings of the Evening Standard says: In this case the music is soul - think JAmes Brown and Otis Redding. And the soulful centre of the piece is Killian Donnelly, an established West End presence who's on sensational form here. As Deco, the show's vocAl Lynchpin, he is part slob and part stuntman, an ego with a voice that could stop traffic yet also heal a wound.
Lyn Gardner of the Guardian writes: If only Doyle - who adapted his own book - and director Jamie Lloyd had tried to give things some semblance of plot, still more some properly defined characters, they might have broken the jukebox-musical mould. Instead, this show simply buys into a form that has delivered big profits in the West End, and probably will here, too.
Charles Spencer of the Daily Telegraph says: In many ways the show is the polar opposite of Once, now playing at the Phoenix. Though many love this sentimental story of a lovelorn Dublin busker and a Czech girl who encourages his career as a singer-songwriter, I found its lip-quivering sensitivity both wet and irksome. The Commitments, in contrast, is thrillingly brash and raucous, and concerns a band who believe that the Irish are the "niggers of Europe" and gradually learn to belt out terrific covers of Tamla Motown, Stax and Atlantic soul classics... The biggest compliment I can pay Jamie Lloyd's production is to say that it really has got soul. It's memorably gritty at times (the swear-word count is exceptionally high) and also proves wonderfully funny and touching.
Paul Taylor of the Independent says: As a fan of both the original novel and the film, I wish I could say that this is how things work out. But the evening is much more successful as a staggered gig than as drama. Though Doyle himself wrote the book, the storytelling lacks texture; the crude banter has been drained of most of its saving charm and the characters all come over as two-dimensional comic types. Newcomer Denis Grindel is winning as the band's manager, Jimmy Rabbitte, who yearns to spread the gospel of soul to the Dublin working classes. But you're never properly convinced that there's real hunger behind this mission and that the music represents, for him, a rebellion against the material and spiritual poverty of the environment. Despite Soutra Gilmour's looming tower-block set, the stakes feel low and the mood blandly upbeat.