Thursday, 8 October 2015

Review: Call Mr. Robeson at Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre

A Call To Unite!

Call Mr. Robeson
Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre
Until Saturday 10th October 2015 then on tour

Paul Robeson was an American entertainer. He appeared on film and stage across the globe. Known for his brilliant oratory skills and fabulous singing voice, people would flock to see him in their thousands. He was even voted the listener’s favourite singer by BBC Radio.

Photo: Carol Rosegg
His life was also defined by his race. The son of a preacher, who had himself been a slave, Paul lived in difficult times. He reached his popularity through singing songs, for example, in the musical Showboat, that we may find repugnant today.

Call Mr Robeson is both written and performed by Tayo Aluko who carries off both the presence and great singing voice of the titular character. The show gives Tayo numerous opportunities to entertain with his rich baritone voice. Ol’ Man River in particular was a musical highlight.  Pianist Glen Giffney does a sterling job accompanying the various pieces.

Photo: Carol Rosegg
The show has a quality in the narrative that kept the audience engaged. From the early loss of Robeson’s mother and troubles dealing with his peers at Rutgers College through to tackling the House Committee on Un-American Activities, this is a warts and all journey.  The warts include relationships outside of marriage and a marriage that had its issues. 

The driving theme is about inequality. The need for the working people of all races to stand up and demand action. From Paul’s experiences with hungry Welsh miners to visits to the Soviet Union, he became outspoken on issues facing the working class.

Indeed this is a play that makes one think but it is far from preachy.  The music punctuates the action.  This is an honest production that deserves a large audience.  Tayo Aluko is both a warm, engaging actor and an extremely talented singer.  The show manages to entertain and inform, and that cannot be a bad thing.

Photo: Carol Rosegg
Tayo held a question & answer session at the end of the show which was informative about both the actor and the character. His level if research clearly came through.

 It is time to switch off the tv and visit the theatre – a powerful show that keeps its sense of entertainment. An example of why we love theatre.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for the North East Theatre Guide from Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

Call Mr. Robeson. A Life, With Songs. Written and performed by Tayo Aluko, with Glen Giffney, Piano.
Directed by Olusola Oyeleye, Designed by Phil Newman
Wednesday - Saturday, October 7 - 10, 7.30pm

The Alphabetti Theatre.
18 New Bridge Street

Tickets £8 (£6 concessions)
Age Recommendation: 12+

On Tour:
Black History Month 2015 Tour. Flyer here

October 7 - 10: Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
(Phone booking: 0800 411 8881)
October 16: Seven Arts, Leeds
October 17: Paul Robeson Theatre, Hounslow
October 24: Swindon Arts Centre
October 25: Redgrave Theatre, Bristol. Tickets here. Facebook event page here
October 28: The Witham,
Barnard Castle
October 31: Theatro Technis,
Camden, London. Tickets here.
Nov 7: Paramount Hudson Valley, Peekskill, New York
Nov 12 - 15: Centenary College,
Hackettstown, New Jersey
Nov 19 - 21: Bus Stop Theatre,
Halifax, Nova Scotia. Flyer here

February 25 - 28: Anvil Theatre, New Westminster, BC, Canada
March 10: St. Helen's Parish Church Hall, Stapleford
March 11: Upper Broughton Village Hall
March 12: Robin Hood Theatre Club, Averham, Newark, Notts
March 17: Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton
March 18: Century Theatre, Coalville, Leics
March 19: Hoton, Cotes & Prestwold Village Hall, Hoton
March 20: Grange Hall, Radcliffe-on-Trent
March 24: Doncaster Unitarian & Free Xtian Church
March 25: Doncaster Unitarian & Free Xtian Church (Concert)
March 26: Derby Theatre

May 13: Cowichan Performing Arts Centre, Duncan, BC

Nov 13 - 22:
North West Territories, BC, Canada. Details tbc
Nov 25: Surrey Civic Theatres,
Surrey, BC, Canada

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