Tag Archives: Michael Duke

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


Review of Outlaws to In-laws – 4 Stars


Outlaws to In-laws

King’s Head Theatre

Reviewed – 31st August 2017





“it has it’s fair share of sequins, cutting remarks, and tight white underwear!”



If I’m honest – I didn’t feel great about going to the theatre this evening. After a hectic (and fun!) extra long weekend, today was a lazy day to recover before work tomorrow. I fancied climbing into PJs and selecting a spot on the sofa rather than climbing into the car and searching for a place to park!

So I gave myself a good talking to. Being a no-show is never an option and only once in my life have I left at an interval because the play was so awful (not naming and shaming here!). So I ate an early meal and braved the drive across the Isle of Dogs to Islington.

I know the Kings Head Pub theatre well and am happy that their almost 50 successful years are to be rewarded with a move to ‘better’ premises – but I will miss their current venue when they go.

Thanks to the usual London traffic I pretty much skidded to a halt in the last legal spot by the pub and threw myself into the auditorium as the lights dimmed! And that was pretty much the pace set for the evening …

‘Outlaws to In-laws’ is two hours long (including the interval) and tackles a decade about every 15 minutes. It takes the audience through the struggles and hopes, dreams and joys of gay men from a time when being themselves was unlawful to present day.

Each scene is set with a contemporary event: the Queen’s coronation, Police arrests of the sixties, Skinhead violence of the seventies and the bombing of the Tory conference in the eighties as well as charting the untimely death of Diana, Princess of Wales (appropriately on the 20th anniversary), and referencing the rise in dating websites for the turn of the 21st century. Through each decade though, many of the challenges and choices remained the same for the characters even as society slowly altered.

Drug culture, whether pill or pint or pot, was intertwined in the passing of time. Alongside this, the devastating arrival of HIV and AIDS, initially seen as a death sentence within the gay community, showing it as now a far more manageable condition.

We are all aware that intolerance, bias, hate, ignorance and violence has not yet disappeared from society but it was heartening to be reminded we have all come a long way in the right direction. The production ends more cheerfully and hopefully with a (possibly) ‘happy ever after’ moment in 2017, at the first gay wedding in a church.


Each decade has been written by a different playwright but a narrative weaves it’s way through them all beautifully with hinted at links between each tale. The cast (Myles Devontè, Paul Carroll, Alex Marlow, Elliot Balchin, Jack Hence and Michael Duke) were wonderful, switching between roles and eras with seamless perfection.

Despite what may sound like a history lesson of gay life, be reassured it has it’s fair share of sequins, cutting remarks, and tight white underwear! The scripts are littered with laugh out loud moments, often used to offset a more emotional moment, without lessening the point. The audience appreciated it all, giggling in anticipation with a few belly laughs thrown in.


Queer Festival

As the opener to the Queer Festival ’17, Outlaws to In-laws is a fantastic play that deserves, and needs, to be seen by everyone.



Reviewed by Joanna Hinson

Production Photography by Paul Dyke



is at The King’s Head Theatre until 23rd September




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