One Love, at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, follows the journey of songwriter and musician Bob Marley from rising reggae star to international icon.
This story, set to Marley’s extraordinary back catalogue, is based around a chapter of the singer’s life, from his start in Jamaica as an unknown looking for his big break, through to the famous One Love Peace Concert in 1978.
It depicts his love, his struggles, and his desperation to unite his beloved homeland, whilst at the same time attempting to balance this with his music commitments in the UK.
This spiritual and political journey is set against the backdrop of civil strife that laid siege to his country.
The Musical opens in Trench Town, Kingston on Independence Day 1972 where Marley is playing with the original Wailers, Bunny Wailer ( Newtion Matthews) and Peter Tosh (Jacade Simpson), accompanied by a talented
Mitchell Brunings is almost Marley reincarnated, playing him with such believability. His beautiful soulful
voice delivers more than 30 of Marley’s familiar songs to the delight of the audience.
Alongside Brunings there is also a notable performance from Alexia Khadime who is superb as Rita Marley,
the wife who Marley leaves in Jamaica when he heads to the UK to write and escape.
Writer and Director Kwarme Kwei Armah stated that his intention was ‘. . .to look after the integrity
of this man’s reputation and spirit.’ And this he has honoured successfully by ensuring the musical isn’t just a gig of Marley’s music weaved together with a thin irrelevant plot line – but instead reliving his historic journey and its powerful connotations set to one of the most powerful scores.
The projection, designed by Duncan McLean, complements the set well which recreates a variety of locations as the story unfolds.
The rousing finales of Jammin’ quickly had everyone on their feet and audience members were then invited to sing along and dance on stage with the actors for a poignant medley of Three Little Birds; Get Up Stand Up and, of course, One Love.
Self-confessed Marley fan or not, I recommend One Love highly. In fact, you’ll definitely walk away with nothing but love for this show.
The musical is running at the Birmingham Rep from the 10th March to the 15th April: