Tag Archives: Athena Collins

Get Up Stand Up!

Get Up Stand Up!


Lyric Theatre

GET UP, STAND UP! at the Lyric Theatre


Get Up Stand Up!

“Brooks practically steals the show with her soul-stirring “No Woman, No Cry”.


There’s a backline of oversized speakers, on which the cast and musicians sway to the beat while Bob Marley bounces downstage to take the microphone. Over the vamping, pulsating music, Marley introduces the cast members, inviting applause for each name check. We are definitely in gig territory here – not one of the oldest, most elaborate West End theatres. A sensation reinforced by the stripped back narrative that follows. The music is key. But like with Marley himself, it serves the purpose of getting the message across in ways that mere words cannot achieve.

David Albury bears a striking resemblance, physically and vocally. He is the alternate Bob Marley, but the role seems to have been written for him alone as he takes us on the journey of one of the most popular, yet most misunderstood, musicians in modern culture. Marley has achieved immortality, but some argue that his image is commercialised and diluted. “Get Up Stand Up!” gives us a glimpse of the real deal. The ghetto kid who believed in freedom. And fought for it. The convert to Rastafari. The kid sent away by his mother to Kingston for a better life. The ambassador of love, loss and redemption. The victim of an assassination attempt who headlined the ‘One Love’ Peace Concert in 1978, receiving the United Nations Peace Medal of the Third World. The cancer victim. But we also catch sight of the misogyny, the carelessness and self-absorption that affected those closest to him – namely his wife, Rita (Gabrielle Brooks), and long-term girlfriend, Cindy Breakspeare (Shanay Holmes).

The most revealing and poignant moments of the evening are provided by Brooks and Holmes. Hearing Marley’s words resonate from these two formidable women’s voices adds layers of compassion, tenderness, and bitterness. Brooks practically steals the show with her soul-stirring “No Woman, No Cry”.

Marley’s somewhat questionable attitude towards women is certainly thrown into the spotlight, and while writer Lee Hall tries to mitigate by highlighting Marley’s ‘marriage to the band’, we never really get a sense of what makes him tick. As mentioned, we do only get the broad outlines. The dialogue between the numbers does tend to assume we know so much already. But with such a wealth of material that’s probably a necessity, and it does spur us on to do our own homework. In the meantime, we can relish in the sheer energy of Clint Dyer’s production. It is a jukebox musical that never feels like one. Marley’s songs are the soundtrack to his life, so obviously make the perfect soundtrack to this sweeping panoramic vision of a visionary artist. Dyer races through the story, but occasionally stops the track to zoom in and focus on particular moments. Marley watches his younger self (brilliantly played by Maxwell Cole) leave the family home, while later on the young Marley stands by to witness his older self receive his cancer diagnosis.

These moments of unconventionality never detract from the ‘concert’ feel of the show. And, after all, it is the songs that tell the story. Shelley Maxwell’s choreography is stunning but, with an eye on a West End audience, occasionally mismatched to the material. But the roots are still there, just as Marley stayed true to his own roots even when Chris Blackwell of Island Records (Henry Faber) sensed a need to reach out to the predominantly white, British audience in the 1970s.

The set list is comprehensive, including lesser known, more lyrically challenging numbers along with the signature tunes we know and love. As the evening slows down to a plaintively acoustic “Redemption Song” we see the intoxicating mix of the gentle and the explosive that coexisted within Marley’s spirit. And his spirit is in full attendance throughout the night. The crowd can’t fail to follow the command of “Get Up Stand Up” during the rousing encore.



Reviewed on 23rd August 2022

by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Craig Sugden




Other show recently reviewed by Jonathan:


Pennyroyal | ★★★★ | Finborough Theatre | July 2022
Millennials | ★★★ | The Other Palace | July 2022
Fashion Freak Show | ★★★★★ | Roundhouse | July 2022
Sobriety on the Rocks | ★★★★ | Bread and Roses Theatre | July 2022
Whistle Down The Wind | ★★★★ | Watermill Theatre Newbury | July 2022
The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe | ★★★★★ | Gillian Lynne Theatre | July 2022
Tasting Notes | ★★ | Southwark Playhouse | July 2022
Monster | ★★★★★ | Park Theatre | August 2022
Cruise | ★★★★★ | Apollo Theatre | August 2022
Diva: Live From Hell | ★★★★★ | The Turbine Theatre | August 2022


Click here to read all our latest reviews


Bare: A Pop Opera

The Vaults

Bare: A Pop Opera

Bare: A Pop Opera

The Vaults

Reviewed – 26th June 2019



“the unevenness of the ride took away from the power of the piece as a whole”


The Vaults had quite a buzz on last night: the house was packed to the rafters, and there were a few celebrities and attendant paparazzi knocking about. Having only been there for the festival, it was fun to see the whole of the end bar area given over to a production, and the space was completely transformed by the addition of a raised traverse stage. The ramped-up atmosphere definitely spoke of this production as ‘an event’, so it was something of a surprise to discover (in very small print in the programme) that this was, in fact, a revival of a piece premiered in California in 2000.

The premise is a simple one: two boys in the graduating class of an American Catholic high school are in love. Their love is secret from their family and friends, and they also struggle with feelings of guilt within their faith. The graduating class are performing Romeo & Juliet, and this cauldron of adolescent love, guilt and desire finally brims over, with tragic consequences.

The UK is currently suffering an upsurge in anti-LGBTQ attacks, particularly in the face of legislation over inclusive sex education, and there is therefore no doubt that this is, unfortunately, a timely staging. Despite this, Bare does seem somewhat dated. The Romeo and Juliet forbidden love trope is well-used, and Stacy Francis’ role as the sassy Sister Chantelle – though splendidly sung – is now most certainly a cliché.

Though a fair amount of lyrics were lost in the ensemble pieces, as well as in some of the smaller cameo moments, the energy and commitment of the cast was undeniable throughout, and there were some stand-out performances. Darragh Cowley sang beautifully, and perfectly captured the conflict between Jason’s inner and outer selves; Georgie Lovatt was sensational as Nadia (this is her professional debut and we will most definitely be seeing her again) and Jo Napthine was electric in her big solo number in the second half.

The second half was much stronger than the first – both musically and dramatically. The two duets, See Me and Cross, packed a much-needed emotional punch after the rather bland pre-interval soundscape, and Lizzie Emery, as Ivy, finally got to show us her musical theatre chops in her terrific solo All Grown Up. It was just a pity that all the musical and dramatic heft came in the second half, because the unevenness of the ride took away from the power of the piece as a whole.

There were a couple of arresting set-pieces, in which Stuart Rogers’ choreography was perfectly complemented by the lighting (Andrew Ellis) and sound design (Ross Portway), but there was also a fair amount of unnecessary movement which was distracting and didn’t seem fully realised. As it stands, Bare is a pretty solid evening of musical theatre (opera doesn’t seem right) with an undeniably important message, but there’s a leaner, more devastating piece fighting to get out.


Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw

Photography by Tom Grace


Bare: A Pop Opera

The Vaults until 4th August


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Anna X | ★★★★ | March 2019
Ares | ★★★★ | March 2019
Check In/Check Out | ★★★ | March 2019
Donal The Numb | ★★★★ | March 2019
Essex Girl | ★★★★ | March 2019
Feed | ★★★★ | March 2019
How Eva Von Schnippisch Won WWII | ★★★★ | March 2019
The Talented Mr Ripley | ★★★★ | March 2019
Vulvarine | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Me and my Whale | ★★★ | June 2019


Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com