ONE LOVE: Music and Lyrics, Bob Marley; Book, Kwame Kwei Amir
Birmingham Rep Theatre
Runs: 2h 40m, one interval, to 15 April
BO: 0121 236 4455
Review Alexander Ray Edser, 17 03 17
Let’s get together
There may possibly be one or two people who have never heard of Bob Marley, though I suspect not. There are probably an awful lot more who don’t know a lot about him. ONE LOVE marvellously addresses this, plus, no surprise here, adding a host of his great songs. This is a serious play, but there’s an on-going party atmosphere in the auditorium.
ONE OVE is a thought-provoking play. It takes us through Marley’s life examining his relationship with Rastafarianism, Jamaican politics and wider social politics, his family, his friends. Marley comes across as no hero, indeed he has many flaws. But he comes to us as a somewhat naïve human, but one who holds true to a simple and profound belief – that human beings have the possibility to live together in peace. It is a noble belief and from this Marley’s nobility stems.
Kwame Kwei Amir’s book then tells an important story, as relevant today as Marley’s belief was when he lived. Marley’s songs are skilfully embedded in the play. They enlighten us as we move along, and, in turn, we listen more closely to them. A win-win. Amir’s structure is strong, except for the occasional scene which is just too short to register.
A strong ensemble is headed up by Mitchell Bruning as Marley. He creates a truly warm character, drawing us into the tale and, despite his flaws, never letting us go. He has a strong, natural, singing voice, as at home in the bouncing reggae and the lyrical – a lovely duet between himself and his wife, Rita (Alexia Khadime).
We don’t get the title song until the end; and when we get it, it truly resonates. Everyone on their feet (cast and audience) singing ‘Let’s get together and feel all right’. What could be more magical than that?
(Credits to follow.)