A Different Stage ★★★★★ Duke of York's Theatre | Aug 30 - Sep 25, 2022


Just the name of singer and songwriter, Gary Barlow, guarantees an audience for this show. But even without that draw, this is a compelling piece of theatre. Fans looking for a wander down memory lane with a review of the greatest hits may be somewhat disappointed because this is a play, not a concert. It explores the arc of a singer/songwriter's life while unraveling the common threads of the human experience. From the quest for success, through the valley of depression and self-doubt, to a recognition of what is actually important, Gary Barlow's journey is a universal and inspiring one. Yes, he is a pop star who has written some beloved hits, but in this evening he exposes the highs and lows of his life with devastating honesty and a delightful sense of irony. Gary Barlow shares his coming of age, his dreams and his values. He grows up believing that music makes things better, and he aspires to a shining place down the M56. What he learns is that music may make things better but the shining place is an illusion. This is an intimate, unsparing look at a life of blessings and challenges, and in Barlow's portrayal of his quest to rediscover his values he holds nothing back. The show is as slick and professionally produced as an evening at a pop concert, and the autobiographical narrative is beautifully crafted, bringing out both the heart and the humour. Barlow's performance is simply captivating, and he has the audience in the palm of his hand from the moment he steps on stage. To his list of awesome accomplishments the singer/songwriter can now add actor and playwright.

Rated: ★★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Claire Kramer MacKinnon.

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