Monday, 2 February 2009

Up Against the Wall - Octagon Theatre, Bolton

Up Against the Wall by Felix Cross and Paulette Randall
Director: Paulette Randall

Reviewer: Stephanie Rowe

A story of an old funky soul singer who was trying to relive his youth, his goal is to get his group included in the up and coming tour with earth wind and fire.

The group, ‘The emperors of Funk’ consisting of Henry and Courtenay, with backing singers Jenai, Leshai and Claudette play to various venues with the crowds getting smaller and the money d
windling too, until an argument between Henry and Claudette causes her to up and leave the group only to be quickly replaced not only in the group but in Henry’s heart by Gloria. Gloria played by Ann-Marie Roberts brings new life to the band and a reason to play.

The musical arrangements by Joseph Roberts and the choreography by Paul J Medford gave this show its life, the music, which were hits from the 70’s soul scene were fabulous and the lively costumes of afro wigs and very large flared trousers designed by Lib
by Watson and referrals to 70’s hit shows like Shaft really took you back in time. The band members of Joseph Roberts on Bass guitar, Cheryl Alleyne on drums, Darren Benjamin on 1st keyboards, Jonathon Idiagbonya on 2nd Keyboards and Barry Williams on Electric Guitar played outstandingly throughout.

Henry played by the very talented Donovan Blackwood and Courtenay by AJ Lewis make this their show with their quick witted and comic remarks and timing.

Whilst this show had me tapping my feet and singing along to the hits, the acting left me cold, it was through no fault of the actors talent but the fault of the writing/Dialogue given to them, making this another one of those cliché musicals in which the dialogue seemed to be an after thought to the idea and the music, and don’t even start on the backing singers talking by only using song titles, although enjoyable to start, the joke wore thin and started to grate.

There is a lot to enjoy in this production but ultimately it just failed to deliver that extra special wow factor that one has had the pleasure to see so many times at the Octagon in the past year!

Photos: Ian Tilton
Up Against the Wall runs at the Octagon until Sat 28th Feb 09
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