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‘Just for One Day: The Live Aid Musical’ – a joyous show that does ask questions…

‘Just for One Day: The Live Aid Musical’ – a joyous show that does ask questions…

An iconic world event brought to life on the London stage… on till Saturday!

By Suman Bhuchar

‘Just For One Day: The Live Aid Musical’ is the story behind the Live Aid concert which raised millions for the famine in Ethiopia.

In the summer of 1985 musician, Bob Geldof persuaded and cajoled music royalty of the day to come together to perform a live concert at Wembley Stadium while people called phone lines and donated money for the famine relief. A simultaneous concert also took place at the John F Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia.

Featuring a cast of 26 performers as well as a live band, it’s a really enjoyable energetic show, with the book (script and song lyrics) by John O’ Farrell and is directed by Luke Sheppard. The show begins with characters’ reminiscences of where they were on July 13 1985 (the date of the concerts) and then goes into some present day jokes about what is Live Aid and white privilege, through two different framing devices.

Amora (Abiona Omonua) Bob (Craige Els) and The Company in ‘Just For One Day

One is that of Suzanne (Jackie Clune) who was a youngster in 1985 and another by Gen Z Jemma (Naomi Katiyo) who is trying to learn about the event.

Along with them we have aid worker, Amara (Abiona Omonua) who questions how the impact of aid affected the narrative of Africa for the ongoing decades.

For the younger audiences and even for older crowd who were there at the time, the story goes that when Sir Bob Geldof was in his group the Boomtown Rats, he was was watching telly and was gob smacked at the biblical horror of famine unfolding in Africa and was persuaded by his then wife, the late Paula Yates that something had to be done.

Actor Craig Els makes a compelling Geldof as a driven character (prone to mansplaining) while Julie Atherton is fantastic as Margaret Thatcher and their song Mrs T/Mr G when the two cross paths is a highlight. (He is trying to persuade her to waive VAT on the funds raised and eventually she does agree!).

It’s a simple set design (Soutra Gilmour) of benches where the performers are sitting when not performing and video projections on the stage and live music.

The story is told in a linear narrative with the journey Geldof took to persuade everyone to get involved and some of it feels self-congratulatory and the songs are enjoyable.

The sound track of the songs, from the David Bowie’s ‘We Could be Heroes’, ‘Rocking all over the World’ by Status Quo, or ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen – there are 38 in all – feature in the show and are all well-known pop anthems.

This is an enjoyable nostalgia fest with the current show running at the Old Vic Theatre, London until Saturday (March 30).

Pictures: ©TheOldVic/Manuel Harlan

‘Just For One Day’ – (January 26) – Saturday (March 30)
The Old Vic, The Cut, London SE1 8NB


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Written by Asian Culture Vulture