The Band at The Alhambra Theatre, Bradford – What a Shame

LtoR Yazdan Qafouri Curtis T Johns Nick Carsberg AJ Bentley and Sario Solomon in The Band credit Matt Crockett

Photograph credited to Matt Crockett

Fans of the BBC show Let It Shine will recognise the five faces of The Band, or ‘the boys’ as they are so ambiguously known in this disappointing production, written by Tim Firth.

It’s a simple premise – five sixteen-year-old girls obsess over a boyband and win tickets to go and see the concert. That night, a terrible incident occurs and the group is torn apart by grief and misunderstanding. Twenty five years later, in what is the most annoying ‘it must be fate’ moment I’ve ever witnessed in a stage show, one of the girls, Rachel, wins four tickets to go to Prague to see The Band’s reunion concert.

The premise, and the delivery of the script, is saccharine and irritating. The girls are both annoying in adolescence and in their middle aged years. Heather who, in her youth, was a well-known flirt, launches into a heartfelt speech about addressing her sexuality; Claire, the keen Olympic diver, becomes overweight (cue several fat jokes, which frankly aren’t funny); Zoe the homework-obsessed geek becomes a teen mum who eventually fulfils her dream of going to University in her 50s and Rachel is just a little bit sad, truth be told… unable to live her adult life because she can’t let her past go. I’m not going to address any of the actresses’ performances individually because each of them is entirely unbelievable, over-acted and highly annoying. Their combined stage presence overshadows Five to Five throughout… in the worst possible way.

Firth’s skill as a writer certainly aren’t showcased here – the script is forced, predictable and entirely unfunny, though it tries so desperately to be so. There are a few polite laughs from the audience, but beyond that we’re really all sitting through the dire dialogue waiting for the next song from the five real stars of this show. The show is packed with snippets of Take That’s famous songs, but they’re not long or energetically delivered enough to get the audience really involved, despite several attempts from the audience to sing along before getting cut off by another pointless interlude.

Take That’s songs are absolutely fantastic – true classics from start to finish. The boys from Five to Five (AJ, Curtis, Sario, Nick and Yazdan) are similarly spectacular, with gorgeous harmonies and flawless dance moves. They are true talents and unfortunately their talents are utterly, utterly wasted in this show. They are made to dress up as statues, pop out of lockers, pretend to be flight attendants… the frantic, skittish direction from Kim Gavin and Jack Ryder makes for really irritating watching. The set (designed by Jon Bausor) might be clever, transforming in seconds from a house to an airport, but it still manages to negatively add to the bizarre over-the-top production.

It’s heartbreaking to see five extraordinarily talented men be made to look almost foolish in this strange show. My honest advice? Wait until Five to Five are free from this Albatross of a show and go and see them on their own tour. A real one this time, that allows them to flourish properly.

Catch The Band at The Alhambra Theatre in Bradford until 28th October.