I’m With the Band

Tim Price

Wales Millennium Centre

Traverse Theatre

From 31 July 2013 to 25 August 2013

Rating: ***

Review by Philip Fisher

Tim Price has written a kind of cross-over between theatre and rock rehearsal. For close to 90 minutes, a band called The Union acts out an allegory of the United Kingdom in bitter strife.

It is a bit like a classic joke featuring a wounded, patriotic Englishman (James Hillier), an aggressive, independent Scot (Andy Clark), a self-effacing Welshman (Matthew Bulgo) and an Irishman (Declan Rogers) with a drink problem.

The quartet start the play sounding like the Stereophonics and unwittingly awaiting trouble just around the corner as they celebrate their tenth anniversary.

This comes with the news that ever since their creation, the band’s manager has neglected to account for any VAT. This leaves them with a cool £3m to find. From there, it is all downhill as the lads suffer a collective mid-life crisis.

By the time they get to a Joy Division ending, everything has unwound in 12 sometimes comic and occasionally moving tracks.

Gordon McIntyre’s music is lively and the actors, under the direction of Hamish Pirie, are all talented players, though the singing is less consistent.

I’m With the Band is co-produced by the Traverse and Wales Millennium Centre and transfers to London’s St James Theatre straight after the Fringe ends.

It manages to get some way under the skins of four men who have outgrown each other’s company and makes some comments on national differences but will probably appeal most to middle-aged rockers who know their Cubase from their arthritic elbows.