All or Nothing
60s Brit band musical is flawed but fine and full of dandies
That Steve Marriott was a right scamp: whether setting fire to his school, or igniting the charts, he always blazed a trail. Writer/director Carol Harrison's tribute to classic mod band The Small Faces takes an episodic approach to the charismatic frontman's personality, the band's rise and fall, and his colourful, yet ultimately tragic life. And throughout the drama, at the side of the stage like The Ghost Of Mods Past, snickers a drunken forty four year old Marriot (Chris Simmons) the age he was when he passed away, heckling and chuckling at his youthful chutzpah.
But this is the only real stroke of invention in a fine show, which links Marriott's Artful Dodger role as a child actor to the Cockney music hall stylings the band flirted with in songs like the lascivious 'Rene' and trippy 'Lazy Sunday'. Add some very un-PC humour, and a mostly fantastic cast and it taps into a Britain on the brink of working class hero worship, where poor yet talented kids could flourish for a while. There may be the usual parade of dodgy DJs, dolly birds, char ladies and stuffy BBC types, but there's a lot of heart.
Samuel Pope as the cocksure younger Marriott and Joseph Peters as Jimmy Winston are both particularly excellent, capturing laddish swagger with chinks of vulnerability, and Melissa Brown-Taylor makes a wise, sassy PP Arnold; although Russell Floyd as their notorious manager Don Arden lacks the requisite menace. The pop art set design by Rebecca Brower is a gorgeous nod to the sixties counter-culture, equalled by some stunning renditions of their R&B inflected songs: 'Tin Soldier' is enough to raise the dead. Geezers.
Theatre Royal Glasgow, then touring Britain until 29 July.