Monday 06th December

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Bend It Like Beckham – The not so beautiful game

| Theatre | 09/07/2015

Gurinder Chadha’s 2002 breakout hit Bend It Like Beckham hit the West End recently, turning the story of football mad Jess’ struggle to live up to her Sikh family’s high standards in an all-singing, all-dancing musical. Directing the adaptation herself, Chadha has a lot to live up to. With a script co-written by Guljit Bindra and Paul Mayeda Berges, it was a brave decision for Chadha, branching out in a new direction to which she has not previously ventured.

Unfortunately, the success of the original film seems unlikely to be mirrored in this reimagining. Majority of the acting seems forced, making the audience feel uncomfortable at times. Natalie Jew’s characterisation of Jess is portrayed through unconvincing glares and beams throughout the entire performance. Lauren Samuels never makes it into Keira Knightley’s shoes (which in all fairness, are difficult to fill), bringing no depth to the character of Jules at all. Although Jamie Campbell Bower brings some eye-candy to the show, he again fails to create a personality for coach Joe, leaving the love-triangle unbelievable and boring.

The theme of women’s football seems to take a back-seat, despite the fact it was possibly the main appeal of the original hit movie. Of course it will be difficult to portray the beautiful game on a West End stage, however with amazing stage productions such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory currently running in the West End, it’s hard to comprehend how poorly the stage is managed in this case.

With a running time close to three-hours, an audience member is likely to leave feeling overworked and deflated. The only uplifting aspect of BILB is the choreography, but having said that, it’s still not worth wasting your money on, even when the Phoenix is offering seats for £15. Buy the DVD instead and stay at home.

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