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[15 SEP 00] BELGRADE THEATRE REVIEW
Five Go To Play Some Ska

The script may be lacking, but get your pork pie hat out for the nostalgia fest that truly belongs to Coventry.

Put a slightly refined crowd than a bunch of "VIPs" (and press) in the Belgrade and they'll be dancing in the aisles long before this take on the ska scene from 20 years ago.

The story, as such, loosely fits around a group of five who decide to from a band and get in on the new buzz gripping the city.


DARREN BOWYER-WARNER AS ZAC AND ADAM SHAW AS SEAN IN THREE MINUTE HEROES

It's little more than an excuse to drift from classic to another by the performers, ably backed by an on-stage band.

The music, although a little smooth round the edges, cannot be faulted.

It's what the crowd came for, and it's what they got.

No doubt ska experts, people who were here at the time, will find numerous holes in the storyline. Pauline Black from The Selecter was involved in helping with it, and The Specials also get a fair few mentions.

As our young three-minute heroes split up due to the age-old reason of "musical differences", Coventry is gripped by the racial tensions that characterised its decline in the 1980s, and turned the place into a ghost town.

By the time they reach an encore, it's time to play the Special AKA's Nelson Mandela.

The best feature of the production is the screen used for projections of newspaper cuttings and stills of the city at the time. To a youngster like me, it's an interesting modern history lesson, but it is a shame they didn't block out the Coventry Evening Telegraph's filing notes before blowing them up on the big screen.

The screen is also used to complement an impressive set, showing scenes involving the characters while there is other action on the stage.

I'm no expert on this era, but I cannot believe the musicians that spoke for a generation were quite so clean-cut and well-behaved, or that they sang in harmony so often.

Enid Blyton couldn't have done a better job with some of the lines, as the Famous Five Went To Play Some Ska. With lashings of cream, no doubt.

Excellent light-relief from the comedy character of Sean ( Adam Shaw), and a decent effort by actors much too young to remember it the first time around, but it lacked attitude.

But if you go for the music, you'll have a great time.

Running Time: 2hrs 30 mins

Until 30 September

REVIEW BY ANTONY HOPKER
 

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CWN / Arts & Entertainment / Belgrade Theatre / 15 Sep  00

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