The characters perform some songs as part of the narrative which fit well, and the talented cast do them justice. But the tunes are best showcased concert style with Marley at the microphone, a band and muffled crowd noises. The ensemble joyfully dances to the upbeat numbers on top of the sound system that engulfs the stage as the brass section, guitarist and drummer join the cast. A sea of bobbing heads ripple through the auditorium and we want to get out of our seats way before we actually leap up at the end.
Duke embodies Marley, capturing his unique head/dread flicking, lifting up his knees as he dances. His voice is potent, and we are mesmerised by his charismatic performance. His rendition of “Redemption Song” is spine tingling under misty spotlights of the red, yellow and green synonymous with the Rastafarian movement.
When Bob’s long-suffering wife, Rita Marley (Gabrielle Brooks), sings “No Woman, No Cry”, her anguish is palpable and voice exquisite. Over the audiences’ loud whooping, we hear every note of Brooks’ powerful performance.