I’m rather ashamed (being a performing arts student and all) that this was my first musical outing in (cough) a few years. There are many other musicals that I would have had chosen to watch before ‘Bend It Like Beckham’. It’s not that I didn’t want to watch it, I was actually really intrigued as to how they had managed to make it into a musical. But there are other more appealing shows that I would have made the effort to see first.
Having said that I really enjoyed it. There were some good songs with both western and eastern vibes, a few interesting dance numbers of the girls training, some laugh out loud moments and a highly relatable storyline, not just to those with an Indian background. Being set in 2001 there may be a feeling of the social comment being dated since there has been progress for both women and the treatment of other cultures, however it is still relevant as there are still many hurdles to get over in regards to both issues. It’s worth a mention that on the night I went to see the show the main character of Jess was played by Sharan Phull who is the understudy.
Taking my seat waiting for curtain up I admired the steps going onto the stage and the boarder being covered in fake grass. The whole stage was bordered with white to give the image of a goal. Throughout the show the set continued to surprise me. The slick change of scenery flipping into the shops on Southall broadway to the sliding in of the girls bedrooms on a raised platform.
The music was a mix of surprisingly catchy songs such as ‘Girl Perfect’ which has been stuck in my head, the emotional songs of parents looking out for their children, ‘There she goes’, and ‘People like us’ the sorrowful song of the Father’s (of Jess the main character) unfulfilled dream due to the way he was treated because of the colour of his skin, projecting his fears and past onto his daughter. There were also many moments musically with distinctive Indian influences, I particularly enjoyed ‘Heer/Golden Moment’ beginning with an angelic vocal.
The dancers were full of energy and entertaining throughout, convincing as a strongly bonded football team. I thought the training number where the girls go through various training exercises was effective. The football moves which the girls managed to perform were executed well. I did have some unrealistic expectation of a ‘Get’cha Head in the Game’ type number with the girls doing choreographed football tricks. Realising my rather high expectations I was admirable of what they did manage to perform on stage. The perhaps simple moves of heading the ball is made multiple times harder, having to perform it in time to music and in front of a live audience; who would not be expecting a football to land in there lap, or worse their face. The cast did however include a footballer who could perform keepy uppies on demand, her invlolvement perhaps not completely necessary as there is a limited amount of football tricks that can be confined to the space of a stage surrounded by various lights and wires. However having the show being a great support to women’s football it is nice to see a professional women’s player involved.
If you want a a great feel good experience with a slice of social comment with relatable characters and situations this is definitely worth a watch.