If, like me, you would think that a musical about Bob Marley surely can’t possibly be of much substance, you couldn’t be further from the truth. This show is a real gem. ‘One Love’ tells the story of Bob Marley’s rise to fame, from starting as a member of ‘The Wailers’ to becoming the solo artist that we recognise today. His life is a convoluted and interesting one, through civil war and social wars in his private life. Best of all, this is flawless intertwined with Marley’s own songs.
Although the show is based heavily around war and corruption, it is surprisingly uplifting and enjoyable. There are moments of comedy, romance, disdain and shock. Mitchell Brunings, who plays the lead, has a captivating and convincing voice in both speaking and singing, and fronts an astonishingly talented and endlessly energetic cast – each of whom bring their own life and character to the stage.
There is a live band, with phenomenal skill, producing sounds that make you just want to get up and dance with everyone on stage. Luckily there is a chance to fulfil this desire before heading off home, to add to the wonderful night.
Before seeing the show I would have considered myself a Bob Marley novice, knowing of only a few songs and less of the man himself, but now I feel somewhat of an expert.
It is surprising to learn the true nature of Marley, and it may not be the calm and loving image that seems to surround him today. Throughout his life he was caught in the middle of a political battle, including an assassination attempt, and neglected his wife in Jamaica for many years by choosing to live in London for his music.
The level of production of the set and stage showed ingenuity and became a fundamental part of the show, really embracing the stage space that the REP have to offer. The auditorium is a perfect setting for the musical, as everyone is guaranteed a clear view of the stage.
Personally, I found the Jamaican accent to be thick and hard to understand at times, but after a short while of adjusting the sound became easier to follow. But there is much to be said in the fact that I haven’t stopped listening to Bob Marley since seeing it.
The show is on at the REP until 15th April. Tickets for the show are selling fast, so be sure to get your hands on them.
Please bear in mind that the themes of this show may not be suitable for younger audiences.
Article for Grapevine Birmingham by Victoria Roberts
*Photography by Helen Maybank