“The Harder They Come” Review

Until tomorrow night, The Harder They Come, a musical based on the Jimmy Cliff film, is at Cardiff’s New Theatre, I saw it last night: it’s great.

On a minimal set, the excellent band are on stage for the whole time, as are the cast.  The show is packed with musical numbers, and the drummer and the two guys on keyboards (who were particularly excellent) kept the music playing through the dialogue and action. And sometimes the dialogue and action took place during musical numbers.  It gave the show a terrific pace. And I’ve not seen the film, but the show cut from scene to scene, taking advantage of the cast all being on stage so that with a snap lighting change and a few steps forward or back we could be transported from the scene of a police beating to a recording studio.  Perhaps my only criticism was the slightly peculiar choices in terms of the level of lighting: sometimes this focused right down on one or two people and at others washed the stage with colour – at the opposite to the moments I’d have chosen…

There were some great voices in the cast and the choreography was excellent.  Perhaps the acting was occasionally a little superficial: Ivan was played a little too “brightly”, so that when he first pulled a knife it felt like a faux-pas rather than a revelation about his character. But then two of my (female) friends were very enthusiastic about him (“it’s his eyes – and the thing he does with his knees…”) Ultimately – however – it was about the music, and my feet are still tapping a day later…

About Simon Wood

E-learning officer, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more...

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