Musical of Roddy Doyle's The Commitments is 'sublime'
Dublin's funny, gritty saviours of soul bring audiences a jukebox musical to sing about
What you need to know
A stage musical of Roddy Doyle's The Commitments has opened at the Palace theatre, London. Doyle's novel about a group of soul musicians in 1980s Dublin was adapted into a hit film in 1991.
The story focuses on manager Jimmy Rabbitte's attempts to form the world's greatest soul band. After holding auditions in his parents' house, he assembles a group of unpromising Dubliners and tries to inspire them to sing like soul greats such as James Brown and Otis Redding.
The musical, adapted for the stage by Doyle and directed by Jamie Lloyd, features soul hits such as Mustang Sally and Try a Little Tenderness. Booking until 26 January.
What the critics like
"After enduring cruel punishments such as the Take That and Spice Girls musicals, at last we have a jukebox musical to sing about," says Christopher Hart in the Sunday Times. On stage, Dublin's saviours of soul are sublime - a solid-gold, five-star blast that will probably run for a decade or more.
More than a bog-standard compilation musical, The Commitments is memorably gritty, wonderfully funny and touching, and "it really has got soul", says Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph. This hugely enjoyable show captures the exhilaration of making music and touches the sublime.
The soulful centre of the piece is Killian Donnelly, "who's on sensational form here", says Henry Hitchings in the Evening Standard. 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.
What they don't like
"If people flock, it will be to hear a slew of familiar hits delivered with real heart by a talented young cast", says Lyn Gardner in The Guardian. If only Doyle and Lloyd had added some semblance of plot, and properly defined characters, they might have broken the jukebox-musical mould. ·