This euphonious performance had me hanging on the edge of my seat from curtain rise – and out of my chair by curtain fall. ‘The Commitments’ is a show that leaves the audience doubtlessly sated, and yet, in utter denial that the feat should ever come to an end at all. For me, at least, I left the theatre with an incredible sense of camaraderie, with the characters, and an indelible urge to pull out an electric guitar out of nowhere and spontaneously burst into song with the desperate hope that passers-by will join in.
Jamie Lloyd’s direction of this phenomenally talented – and phenomenally Irish – cast is a large contributing factor in the authenticity of the entire tirade. A group of actors who coalesce with such effortless fluidity is the key to retelling this story of friction and rivalry within such a group of individuals – both friend and foe. As well as actors, this (supposedly endlessly) talented amalgam of performers brings such a spectacular musical edge to the West End scene that, quite frankly, isn’t currently available on any other stage.
Furthermore, the impressive set design brings a sense of involvement to the audience. The aesthetics of Soutra Gilmour’s work, with such a brilliant realization of Dublin in the 1980’s, comes with such an organicism that it takes a while for me to remember this is just a set, and not an actual block of flats that have been transported to the grand Palace Theatre.
For someone who is told profusely often that they curse like a sailor, ‘The Commitments’ gives me the impression that I am more reminiscent of a lone withering man on a rotting dingy boat in Western Pacific doldrums, and decidedly not a recalcitrant cursing tyrant like so many clearly seemed to be in Dublin in 1986. At times, it’s as if every other word coming out of a character’s mouth is a swear word, or at the very least, some derivative of an insult. The cynical humour leaves me with tears joy running down my face. Briefly chuckling is not enough to contain the maniacal laughter that so erratically escapes me – and the crowd seated around me too. Gasps and splutters of drinks from fellow audience members in shock from such brilliantly delivered one-liners and plot twists result in an auditorium completely devoid of oxygen, as it seems all breathable air has been inhaled from such hapless hilarity.
‘The Commitments’ is a euphoric delight throughout. The heart-wrenching emotion that I felt for this story was completely and utterly enveloping and I urge you all – men, women, children (okay, maybe not children) – to go out and experience the same ludicrous enjoyment I did when seeing this show. Put your hands together for the hardest working band that ever was: The Commitments.