reviewed by Paula Citron
The Harder They Come
Theatre Royal Stratford East
Written by Perry Henzell (based on the 1972 movie)
Music by Jimmy Cliff and others
Directed by Dawn Reid and Kerry Michael
Starring Rolan Bell, Joanna Francis, and Lain Gray
At the Canon Theatre until Aug. 23
The Harder They Come at the Canon Theatre is perfect summer entertainment. There is much to enjoy in this musical imported from England.
The show is a stage version of Perry Henzell’s break-out 1972 movie that addressed issues of corruption and violence in real life Jamaica. The story, set to a scintillating reggae score, is about a young man Ivan who comes to Kingston to become a superstar singer and has his dreams burst one by one.
Although most people are going to get perhaps every 10th word of the Jamaican patois, the story can still be understood, and there is a detailed scene analysis in the program. The main point is that the cast is wonderfully talented, the choreography sizzles, and the music is absolutely seductive.
The directors have placed everyone, including the band, on stage within a set of walls. It’s a simple show with lots of heart.
The Harder They Come continues at the Canon Theatre until Aug. 23.