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We’ll Live and Die in These Towns review at Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – ‘an inspired musical’

Scene from We'll Live and Die in These Towns at Belgrade Theatre, Coventry. Photo: Robert Day

The Enemy’s 2007’s platinum-selling album We’ll Live and Die in These Towns definitely had something. An angsty, aggressive edge that catapulted the Coventry three-piece to the top of the charts (or near enough) for a few years.

Geoff Thompson’s new musical, for which the Enemy frontman Tom Clarke is musical director, takes that angry energy and spins it into something richer and deeper. It’s more of a play with songs than a musical, with tracks from the Enemy’s debut smartly reworked to underscore the action.

The plot is simple. A fictional frontman of a fictional band freaks out before playing his home town, and bolts off to haunt the places of his adolescence, encountering pre-fame friends and family as he goes. A simple plot, but one that, in several long, thoughtful scenes, allows Thompson to explore a lot – artistic integrity, ambition, identity, and more. What do we owe to the places that made us? Do we ever really leave them?

Hamish Glen’s production unfolds on Patrick Connellan’s tessellated jigsaw, projection-splashed design, and Clarke’s theatrical versions of his own songs are really good live – particularly the title track, which gets the local audience singing along. A moving moment.

It could be a lot shorter, though. And although there’s a few nice supporting performances, particularly from Quinn Patrick as an armchair-bound philosopher, Tom Milner’s Argy doesn’t exactly scream chart-topping charisma. Inspired, but flawed. A bit like the band themselves.

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Verdict
An inspired but overlong new musical built around Coventry-based band the Enemy’s 2007 debut album  
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