Review: I’m With The Band, WMC

Reviewed by Sum Sze Tam


Sitting down at the stage of I’m With The Band, you’d think it was the set of a somewhat bland music gig. The actors come out and start playing their first song ‘We’re All In This Together’ (not the finale from High School Musical), and though the show is premised as an allegory for the political state of the UK, this is a story about a band, ‘The Union’, and their music.

Tim Price, the writer behind the Edinburgh award-decked The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning, has cleverly written each band member to embody the people and government of Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and England. The actors deliver very nuanced interpretations of this, for example, Matthew Bulgo trudges along as Welsh bassist Gruff: dependent, endearing, but sometimes distastefully cowardly.

Parts of the staging are very original; using guitar chords to represent a heated argument conveys the abstract tone better than words ever could. However, the staging of the climax fell a little short of the mark. Chaos was clearly the intention, but director Hamish Pirie failed to establish enough visually frenzied movement – other than a little wriggling and screaming – which made the scene look a little empty, and more than a little bit weird.

Despite this, the skill in the direction and writing is indisputable; each moment in I’m With The Band earns its place as a progression of the story. It rouses a curiosity in the audience that, nowadays, little theatre does.

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