Celtic: The Musical – Gaiety Theatre – Review by Fran Winston
The Gaiety Theatre, South King Street, Dublin 2
20th-24th September nightly at 7.30pm (doors 6.30pm) with a matinee on the 24th at 2.30pm (doors 1.30pm)
In the spirit of full disclosure I should probably admit that what I know about football you could write on a postage stamp. Actually a postage stamp is probably being generous. A pinhead is probably more accurate. Hence I brought along a friend who loves “the beautiful game” to this in order for them to fill in any blanks for me when it came to the terminology in this show.
The title pretty much explains the plot. This is the history of Celtic Football Club. Founded in 1888 by Brother Walfrid it has seen many ups and downs in its 100 plus years but has always enjoyed the unwavering support of the fans. Those fans have seen world wars, massive unemployment and many ups and downs over the decades and this serves as much as a social commentary and a history of Glasgow as it does the history of the club.
These same fans came out in force for the opening of this and it’s safe to say they are the target audience. Using archive footage and actors to tell the tale you definitely get more from this if you understand the references to the team and its history. However the performers on stage are some of the most energetic I have ever encountered and it is impossible not to get somewhat swept up in the whole spectacle.
That said non fans will very much feel out of place here, as the Celtic loving crowd sing and cheer along from the off. While one or two of the songs will be recognisable (and they even manage to get a Depeche Mode track in at the end) on the whole these are the songs that have graced the stands for over a century and are beloved of the true supporters.
I will admit that I found the history of the club fascinating and I had no idea how obsessive their fans could be, going out of their way to get to games no matter where the team was playing. References to their rivals are met with boos and chants while the heroes of Celtic are greeted with rousing cheers as their names are mentioned or as they appear in the on-screen footage. This also has plenty of surprisingly funny moments. I honestly didn’t expect to laugh as much as I did.
There is definitely a market for this kind of play and the fans seemed to enjoy the opportunity to celebrate their club. I would imagine the Saturday performances will be even more raucous than the midweek one I attended. As for the non-fans if you must attend this you will enjoy the energy being displayed both on stage and in the audience but you probably won’t leave converted to Celtic fandom. This isn’t trying to be anything it’s not and is firmly aimed a particular audience but since they are sure to come in droves for this there is not much more I can say other than my football loving friend really enjoyed it and I was pleasantly surprised, if not exactly blown away.