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The Commitments - Royal and Derngate Review

Music is the beating soul of Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments as the touring production arrives at Royal and Derngate.

The cast of The Commitments. Photo by Ellie Kurttz

The musical undeniably suffers from such a wafer-thin plot which doesn’t translate particularly well on the stage. The show is set in 1980s Dublin as Jimmy, a band manager, is attempting to create a new group. After a round of poor auditions, he settles on a group of mates and the plot basically revolves around the group getting together, rehearsing and playing some gigs before a few arguments and fallouts halt their progress, and not much else happens. They sing, they argue, they move on.

Central to the group is frontman Deco, played by an excellent Ian McIntosh. McIntosh carries the brash arrogance of the character and manages to tread the line of the character to make him still feel redeemable which is no mean feat. There’s no denying the power of his vocals which soar. He puts maximum effort and energy into the performance.

James Killeen also impresses as Jimmy, having the near impossible job of controlling and keeping the band together which Killeen plays well. Watch out for stand-out Ronnie Yorke as he makes sure he takes every moment as Mickah and is a delight to watch with maniac levels of energy. 

Eve Kitchingman (Natalie), Ciara Mackey (Imelda) and Sarah Gardiner (Bernie). Photo by Ellie Kurttz.

There’s some tremendous supporting work by the three female backing singers, Ciara Mackey, Eve Kitchingman and Sarah Gardiner, who all have fabulous voices. Their own solos are gorgeous to hear and the harmonies are class.

Tim Blazdell’s set looks suitably run down and is effective in locating the scenes although the scene changes are often a little clunky and could be a little smoother. Rory Madden’s sound could also be a little cleaner, the levels being a little off at times.

The soundtrack is full of soul classics and is a treat to listen to performed live by the cast and additional musicians. With the numbers not adding anything narratively, it makes you wonder if the show would be better off as an all-out concert. Some of the early rehearsals scenes could do with a little more pep but as the production goes on it slowly ramps up and ends in a rousing finale of numbers that has the audience up on their feet.

The show is still really enjoyable thanks to the music and the cast, they certainly live up to the committed part of the title. Challenging deep thinking this isn’t, nor does it try or want to be, it’s simply good entertainment.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

The Commitments plays at Royal and Derngate in Northampton until Saturday 15th May with tickets available from The tour continues with dates booking until 1st July, visit for the full tour schedule.

L-R Eve Kitchingman, Michael Mahony, Ciara Mackey, James Killeen, Sarah Gardiner, Conor Litten, Guy Freeman and Ian McIntosh. Photo by Ellie Kurttz

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