Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Rudy’s Rare Records @ The REP, Tuesday 9th September 2014

I dread to think how many hours I have spent in record shops over the years. In Brum we had...deep breath...Swordfish, The Diskery, Plastic Factory, Reddington’s Rare Records, Highway 61, Tempest, Second City Sounds, Frank’s Wild Records plus a Virgin Megastore, and at least two branches of HMV. Bearwood had its own record shop too, if you went there we would love to hear your fond memories of the place.

There were probably others that have now faded into the memory, along with regular record fairs (one or two a month). Of course that was pretty much the only way you could hear a wider range of music back in the day, often under the gentle guidance of the record shop owner. Radio stations pretty much revolved around the top 40 and barring the odd maverick...step forward Mr John Peel for’d only hear a limited amount of what was out there. Now of course some Nigerian dubstep is just a click away (I actually made that genre up, or so I thought, and within 2 seconds I’d found some online). Anyway this waffle has a point. Sort of. 

Set in an imaginary record shop in Brum this stage adaptation of a Radio 4 series sees Dudley’s finest, Lenny Henry, play Adam the son’s owner who reluctantly moves home to look after his aging father, the titular Rudy. It’s the sort of setup that’s spawned some of the best sitcoms in history, Steptoe and Son and Frasier among them, and Rudy’s Rare Records clearly follows in their footsteps. Once again the son is pretty straitlaced compared with the father, in this case we have a third generation too though in the shape of Adam’s son, who clearly takes after his granddad. Sensible chap.  

Lenny Henry as Adam and Larrington Walker as Rudy

So much for the setup then, how does it translate on stage? For starters it’s blessed with a great cast. Fresh from recent dramatic triumphs (Othello and Fences) Henry has a more subtle edge to his performance (although he can quickly turn on the old Lenny comedy tap) and there are some touching moments of pathos between him and his onstage father brilliantly portrayed by Larrington Walker. If you’re not used to a broad Jamaican accent Walker’s can take a moment or two to get used to but it’s the real deal and both writer and actor have clearly had some fun coming up with some wonderfully amusing lines and verbal mash ups. 

Lenny Henry as Adam, Jeffery Kissoon as Clifton, Larrington Walker as Rudy and Lorna Gayle as Doreen

Keep an eye open for Larrington’s dance routine too, boy that dude can move. Joivan Wade is perfect as Adam’s son, I won’t reveal the plot twists but again it creates some neat moments for intergenerational bonding.  Speaking of the plot it’s a fairly simple tale of a record shop under pressure from developers, practical Adam wants to sell up whilst Rudy won’t even consider it. There’s a great line early on in the show that perhaps sums up why he feels that way, “This place is an art gallery” he explains gesticulating at the rows of records on the shelves. With that broad Jamaican accent though he places an ‘h’ in front of the word art...I could be imaging all this but doesn’t that just sum up the difference between record shops and downloads? There’s a real h(e)art and soul to the former that you just can’t replace with a click or two.

Lenny Henry as Adam and Natasha Godfrey as Tasha

An entertaining support cast add some extra spice to the whole thing with Natasha Godfrey as that rare subgenre, “a black goth”, Lorna Gayle as the subject of Rudy’s affections and Jeffrey Kissoon as his oldest friend and partner in crime...mainly card playing, rum drinking and chasing the ladies. Having a live band onstage is a great idea, they could’ve skimped on this and used pre-recorded stuff but this makes the production a bit more of a cross between a play and gig, especially during the second half of the show which sees the cast perform some old school classics. Put it all together and it adds up to a proper feel good night out with plenty of chuckles along the way. Any music fans over 40 will recognise places like Rudy’s from their teenage years, anyone much under this age will hopefully get some sense of what they’re missing and seek out the few remaining record stores still left (happily in Brum Swordfish and The Diskery are still alive and well). If this particular Rudy could send a 'message to you' I guess that would be the best of all...

Larrington Walker as Rudy and Lenny Henry as Adam

Rudy’s Rare Records is on at The REP until September 20th before moving on to the ‘ackney Empire. Cor blimey guv, apples and pears etc. 

All photos copyright credit: Robert Day

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic Show - So Good that I ended up watching it TWICE! All of the Cast were Brilliant but Mr Larrington Walker stood out for me - Bustin' his moves and makin' you want to cry when he sang the Cover of 'A Change Gonna Come!' Would thoroughly recommend it to anyone in their 40's and over - The Little Boy in front of us managed to fall asleep towards the Rowdy End?? Thank you for being Entertaining and for letting me give you a kiss, Love, Lilly Kaur Xx