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A CurtainUp London Review
The opening rock 'n' roll number "Mustang Sally" is a song made famous by Wilson Pickett and prominent in the 1991 Roddy Doyle film, The Commitments. One Trick Pony is the name of theatre group Cartoon de Salvo's alter ego rock band, one of whom, Brian Logan, disguised in an Adam Ant style military Hussar's uniform, doubles as a music critic on The Guardian. They play and sing well and were it not for the ironic commentary between numbers you might not realise this is a theatre performance and not purely a pub music gig with idiosyncratic incidents. In fact, One Trick Pony have sometimes played a venue without indicating that this a dramatic performance.
So what is different? There is the old marital split and remaining wounds between guitarists and vocalists Hayley (Alex Murdoch) and Richie Dyson (Neil Haigh) being played out onstage. There are the ups and downs of a pub band: whose ego is wounded this week and who feels left out of things and is threatening to quit, who will get a chance to play their original music as opposed to the main diet of cover versions of well known rock? The "real life" romantic issues use the love songs to good effect with "The First Cut is the Deepest" and "I Can't Live if Living is Without You" exposing the human pain of members of the band, but not really convincing in the acting department because of the jokey atmosphere. Tai Lawrence is the drummer Jez who is distanced as all drummers seem to be.
The devised performance carries on in the interval with the getting-on-a-bit band members still in character as they take a break: Hayley the bass guitarist applying the Ibuprofen gel to her sore arms and with strapped up fingers, wondering whether Richie will come back to finish the gig. After all, this band has the reputation of never missing a gig no matter the weather or the traffic or the vehicle breakdowns. The rows will be followed by a "kiss and make-up" and Hayley on bass will be quite overcome as One Trick Pony play their final gig together. A filmed sequence has fun flash backs filmed locally of the band busking in true rockumentary style.
The rock songs are popular, a couple harking back to Elvis and the Beatles mixed in with numbers from the 1970s and 80s, some cheesier than others like "We are Family" and "500 Miles". The songs are well enough rendered but there too is little content which could be described as theatre, leaving more the impression that we have stumbled into someone else's in-joke rather than having discovered the new Blues Brothers .
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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