Tag Archives: Daniel Bailey

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

 

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Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – 3 Stars

Priscilla

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch

Reviewed – 1st May 2018

★★★

“rough around the edges, let down by uncertainty”

 

In a pink bus dubbed ‘Priscilla’, two drag queens and a trans-woman travel across the Australian outback to perform at a venue in Alice Springs. The unlikely three run into a series of surprises on the way, some hysterical, some considerably more serious, but the biggest surprise of all awaits them at their destination. Outrageous and glitter covered, the journey is underscored by Tick’s anxieties surrounding his pending reunion with his son, and Bernadette’s own romantic journey. Based on the 1994 hit Australian film ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ and adapted into one of the pioneering jukebox musicals for the stage, this is a cult favourite featuring hits from across the 70s, 80s and 90s.

Mark Inscoe’s Bernadette is the most consistently strong performance of the night. Glamorous, warm and always ready with a biting comment, Inscoe delivers this part with the class and professionalism she deserves and when it comes to the lip syncs Inscoe is impossible to take your eyes off. He looks considerably more comfortable in drag than his fellow actors, and commands the stage unquestionably. Inscoe’s performance is a clear example of the level this whole production needs to reach. Daniel Bailey’s first dance sequence as Adam/Felicia is fantastic – explosive, committed and dynamic. Unfortunately Bailey is unable to bring this energy to his acting. He feels unsure and clumsy, and rather fades into the background, particularly in the larger scenes. Tom Giles as Tick/Mitzi gets progressively stronger throughout, and shines in his show-stopping delivery of ‘MacArthur Park’. This a stand out moment, and he single handedly elevates the energy of the whole production. The relationship between Bernadette and Tick is particularly lovely, genuine and believable, and both Inscoe and Giles deliver moving performances in their more tender moments.

The main cast are joined by a lively community chorus, and the use of actor musicians in the show is a lovely addition which also provides visual variety to a stage, that is otherwise quite bare. Whilst the bus itself is cleverly designed by Joanna Scotcher, the cast are forced to work harder than they might otherwise need to, to generate the feeling of spectacle required. Mark Howland’s lighting design doesn’t help either, overly dark at points and less dynamic than I was hoping to see.

The chorus makes a fantastic sound which is at its best in the slower, harmony-based pieces, however in the faster numbers, particularly in the first half, the vocal entries are often uncertain and late, though the second half picks up in terms of energy and momentum. The vocals are frequently overpowered by the orchestral accompaniment and certain actors struggle without choreographed movement. This is a show whose spectacle relies on these chorus numbers being as impactful and as tight as possible, and it does struggle here.

Glitter, drag queens and a pink bus – if this doesn’t recommend a show, I don’t know what will. This production captures the fun, excitement and tenderness of the story, and is supported by some brilliant performances. Unfortunately it does feel rough around the edges, let down by uncertainty, however I hope that these issues can be solved by more rehearsal over the course of the run as this production is alive with potential.

 

Reviewed by Amelia Brown

Photography by Mark Sepple

 

https://www.queens-theatre.co.uk

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch until 26th May

 

Related
Interview with star of the show – Mark Inscoe

 

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