After a box-office success when it hit the cinemas in 2002, Bend It Like Beckham
appears on the London stage thirteen years later – adding to a rapidly increasing list of film to stage adaptations in the West End.
Many of the film’s creative team are also behind the musical: most notably director Gurinder Chadha
who has also co-written the show’s drawn out book with Paul Mayeda Berges
. Whilst the story seems to be dragged out at times (such as the repetition of football coach Joe being dismissed by Jess’s father), it manages to carry an enormous heart all the way through and in addition, pulling off plenty of laughs throughout.
also reprises her role from the film, as the eccentric Pinky who is joined by her entourage of similarly amusing friends. In fact, the performances from the cast rise above Chadha’s sometimes flawed direction.
‘UB2’, the show’s opening number, does nothing to introduce characters clearly, ending up messy and over-crowded without packing a punch. Whole scenes are often played out on a small platform raised high above the stage - tucked away in a corner, and the need for characters to enter and exit via a small staircase leading off into the audience becomes tiresome speedily.
A rather humourless ‘Posh and Becks’ felt out of place in the overall style of the show.
The show is a game of two halves, the second of which scores many more goals than the first.
(music) and Charles Hart’s
(lyrics) fusion of both the British and Punjabi culture is clear in all ensemble numbers. The solos are touching, especially ‘People Like Us’ sung by Jess’ dad (wonderfully portrayed by Tony Jayawardena
) which illustrates his irritation of the way that Sikhs are…