Review — One Love: The Bob Marley Musical

Review — One Love: The Bob Marley Musical

A big night of reggae

We’re off to the theatre. And for this show we gather together all our Nectar points and book the executive suite on the Number 50 bus to get us to The Rep for the opening of One Love: The Bob Marley Musical.

Some smartie (ok, it was us) said music is the history of your life. And reggae star Marley used his songbook to reflect on the conflicts that etched his personal story. Two dozen songs tell a tale of what almost tore him apart: his white father who abandoned him; the Jamaican street wars that killed hundreds; his separation from a ghetto life when he hit it big; and, bitter battles with the dreaded politicians to try to give Kingston some peace four decades ago.

Writer/director Kwame Kwei Armah works hard to guide us away from a mid-table trite jukebox musical. And, happily, he succeeds.

There is terrific ensemble dance routines, Grade A songs, good use of archive video to encapsulate not only the violent times that divided the island but also the emerging punk scene in London that changed the music world.

And we simply couldn’t keep our eyes off Mitchell Brunings as Marley. He caught the hawk-like face of the star and that sharp plaintive voice. Plus that bodybuilder’s physique (though nothing like Marley’s whip thin stature) helped him through a role that kept him onstage for almost every second of the play.

But we were pinned to our seats by Alexia Khadime who was Bob’s wife Rita. She had a voice that could pierce steel as she summoned up a spouse left behind in Jamaica as Marley romped through a 1970’s London scene that changed from rock to glam to punk. And her duet with Brunings on No Woman No Cry kept a boisterous full house quiet as she entranced, seemingly, everyone present.

So, a winner. You pay to see a Marley musical and you’ll get it with a full menu of songs, a storyline that many just don’t know about (his battle with poverty, his rocky youth, the concert shootings that almost killed him) and a rousing finale medley that gets you off your bum and up and dancing.

On until 15th April. Tickets

WORDS: Richard Lutz