Palace Theatre, London
The intimate and ornate setting of the Palace Theatre in itself was a great experience. Picking seats close to the action, I felt it was a perfect place for The Commitments. A story about a group of working class North side Dubliners trying to hit the big time with a make shift band – my seats allowing me to look up in awe at the action.
Set in the 80’s, even the relatively young in the audience would be able to relate to the stereotypical costuming with large mullet-ed hair and velvet ruffles in abundance. To complement this, the songs that are either in full performance or even snippets of are well-known and repeated by the audience – a real concert style atmosphere begins.
As a regular visitor to Dublin with close Irish friends, many of the references to the ‘North Side’ and the prominence of U2 during this era with the dislike of this fact, tickled a funny bone. I wondered if all of those who had come into this performance would have understood the gags and puns as well as others.
The actors themselves were very inspiring. With Dublin accents and enlisting the same amount of professionalism as one would expect from a continuous running show. Despite this, the performance seemed new and fresh; not expectant of a performance which would have been shown a mere hours before. General movements and speech in the background, interaction with one another and the set was constant and almost naturalistic in such an exaggeration of comedy; showing the subtle skills that these actors are capable of. Such a talented group of performers – not only do their acting abilities rival many of this genre in the West End, but their singing and musical abilities are also top-notch, giving something very special and unique to this show.
Ending on a high is an understatement. The Palace Theatre was turned into a concert, leaving you forgetting that this is a written play; with little bits of improvisation, along with a borderline of acting versus personality of the actors themselves; This production was wonderful to see as it showed the joy and excitement that the performers themselves have with this production. The standing sing along, clapping and dancing of the audience looking onto this pretence band was a strange but also an endearing ending to a West End musical and brought a great sense of the Irish community to London.