All Mod Cons

All Or Nothing

The Mod Musical.

Theatre Severn

19th-21st September 2016

As the audience gathered it was apparent that no one really knew how this show might pan out. Would it have a follow-able storyline or would it be just a tribute concert? It became clear very quickly that this is indeed a show with a narrative; and what a story it was.

Quite apart from the interest of the Shropshire connection, that of guitarist Ronnie Laine who settled with his wife Kate in the South of the county, there was a real cautionary tale to be told.

Told through the eyes of their lead singer, Steve Marriott, All or Nothing follows the path through rags to well, one would like to say riches, but alas this is indeed a story of true rags to rags rock and roll.

Showing Don Arden off in a fairly unfavourable light , he was the manager of the band and had them in a water tight contract which paid the boys in prestige, clothes , cars, drugs and everything else rock and roll; apart from actual cash. When they were finally able to give Arden the slip they were bought of him into a new contract which again caused them grief and ultimate poverty.

These are the songs of a generation, All or Nothing,  Itchycoo Park and Lazy Sunday to name but a few and yet the real artists involved in the record got very little or no reward, whilst the cigar smoking fat cats grew richer by the minute. Unusual that isn’t it? That people doing the hardest work are the ones rarely rewarded as they should be:  whilst others grow rich and fat. So it was in the life of this powerful and formative band.

Using an episodic plot the show presents anecdotal moments linked by a bitter and older Marriott. He follows the boys almost ghostlike and is obviously helpless to do anything but watch it all spiral out of control.  Now this would work superbly only if the guys playing in the band are also wonderful character actors and understand the conventions of true drama. This cast surely does and the whole thing worked a treat offering up a balance of music, solid gold hits and dramatic pathos.

As a consequence this show is a colourful and exciting combination of factuality and great music. Everybody on the stage tonight had a right to be there and the slick, well-oiled production they displayed, can only come from tough work and a deep professional commitment to character and genre.

This is a great show, a sad story but so beautifully told. Writer Carol Harrison will need to load her pen with more ink  as, one imagines, so many people working in the piranha filled pool that is the rock world, feel they have many stories to tell. Maybe she is the one to bring them all to us.

This is a four star review

Owen J.Lewis

Section:

Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet.

Read More from Owen Lewis