Review: The Commitments, Grand Opera House, York

Christina Tedders and real life sisters Leah and Amy Penston, as backing singers The Commitmentettes with lead singer Brian Gilligan as Deco.
Christina Tedders and real life sisters Leah and Amy Penston, as backing singers The Commitmentettes with lead singer Brian Gilligan as Deco.

Certainly not a musical to be watched by anyone under the age of fifteen years old – this was a production that had plenty of soul, along with sarcasm and swearing.

The carping and chaos that ensued as working class music fan Jimmy Rabbitte, played most convincingly by Andrew Linni, put together an unlikely bunch of amateur musicians, finally transforming them into “the finest soul band Dublin has ever produced”.

You couldn’t ignore disgusting Deco, wonderfully portrayed by Brian Gilligan, a character we all loved to loathe, as did his long-suffering band member but boy could he sing, and it was wonderfully exhilarating when songs finally came together.

Credit should be given to Deco’s backing singers too, Imelda, Leah Penston, Natalie, Amy Penston, and Bernie, Christina Tedders, whose powerful singing voices really got to shine in numbers such as River Deep, Mountain High.

The set design by Soutra Gilmour captured the atmosphere of council estates, pubs and community halls that had seen better days; the cast were excellent and the banter flowed as one scene moved effortlessly into the next.

Kevin Kennedy made every line count in his role as Jimmy’s Da, and his deadpan comedy delivery nearly stole the show. Alex McMorran was a contender too for stealing the show, with his iconic performance as Grandad. The final twenty minutes of the show was a concert of sweet soul music which went down a storm with the packed auditorium.

The Commitments runs at the Grand Opera House, York, until Saturday February 18, daily at 7.30pm plus a matinee on Saturday at 2.30pm.

Tickets: