Bristol Hippodrome – until 28 April.
Reviewed by Lucy Hitchcock.
Walking into an auditorium to be confronted with a giant “Ceefax” page isn’t normal, but this is Take That!
“The Band” written by Tim Firth is artistic brilliance. It features the timeless and uplifting music of Take That, mixed with the heart wrenching lives of five young girls. These girls desperately want to see their favourite band, finally winning tickets to do so. Unfortunately, the night ends with a drastic turn which left no dry eye in the theatre. 25 years on, they have all gone their separate ways, but one of them wins tickets to see the band once more. All of them go, and the night ensues in chaos, hilarity and wit that will leave you wanting more.
All the characters are so beautifully written and are extremely relatable. Young Rachel, played by Faye Christall, was every teenage girl in the desperately in love with her favourite boyband! Her best friends are also in love with this boyband, but Rachel is clearly the main focus and wants to go this concert more than anyone. Her friend Debbie, played by Rachelle Deidericks, was the epitome of grace. With a smaller role that the rest, she surely made a lasting impression. Heather, played by Katy Clayton, was a breath of fresh air and had me in stitches! Her comedic timing was excellent and she was fabulous! Zoe, played by Lauren Jacobs, is the more timid member of this group. She is brainy and wants to study at university, but still finds time to watch Top of the Pops to swoon over the boys! Claire is played by Sarah Kate Howarth and is hilarious. Paired with Heather, they had the audience in stitches. The back and forth banter between all 5 of these girls was true to life and showed how strong of a bond they had both on and offstage.
Older Rachel, 25 years on, is played by Rachel Lumberg. She is the only one of the older ladies we are introduced to from the start and she kept the audience in her hands the whole way through. She showed such deep emotion that I felt myself wanting to go and hug her! Older Heather, portrayed by Emily Joyce, was outstanding. Her life changes vastly from her plans made as a teen, but she is still as quick witted and ready to face everything with a smile. Older Zoe, played by Jayne McKenna, was brilliant.
Dubbed as ‘Mother Earth’ when the girls meet up again, her life also didn’t go to plan but yet she was so happy it didn’t! Older Claire, played by Alison Fitzjohn, has the most remarkable change out of all of the girls. From the slim diver she once was, she is now a larger woman who laughs at herself with her friends but still has the undertone of a vulnerable 16 year old.
All of these woman and girls are excellent and their voices blend beautifully, to create some incredible harmonies. The boys of the high-profile tv show ‘Let it Shine’ were fantastic. Watching them was almost like being in a concert. During one of the songs, we were treated to fire flares which left the audience cheering and I’m sure I heard someone shout ‘I love you’!! The energy they showed onstage was electric and for many of the songs the audience were clapping along and dancing. It was almost as if the audience were a character in their own right, we were encouraged to join in from the start.
The choreography, set and costume, together with the talent of all the cast, were all beautifully executed to create a wonderfully emotive piece of theatre. The use of projection was also prominent in the show and was delivered brilliantly to provide smooth scene transitions and to aid the audiences mind during songs, for example “The Flood” was accompanied by a waterfall.
The Band left me with some questions. Was The Band just the concert the girls went to see? Or was The Band really the girls, who after 25 years were still the best of friends- a Band that can never be broken?