Review: All Or Nothing, Ambassadors

The ‘small’ show that could – from the Vaults to the Arts and now to the West End, Small Faces musical All Or Nothing transfers to the Ambassadors Theatre

“I am going to exploit every last bit of you”

I have to hold my hands up, I couldn’t name you more than one Small Faces song if I tried, and that’s only because of the M-People cover of ‘Itchycoo Park’ from my formative years. Which is the main reason that it has taken me this long to getting round to see All Or Nothing, the nature of a jukebox musical tending towards existing fans of the music.

Of course, the ideal is that a show can break out to expand its reach to a wider audience (in a way that Sunny Afternoon did, for me at least), and I’m not sure that All or Nothing quite has those chops. Introduced and quasi-narrated by an older Steve Marriott, the band’s frontman, who reflects back on the band’s rise to fame with something close to rose-tinted glasses.

Carol Harrison’s book clearly has a lot of biographical information to fit in, but using this approach to storytelling skews it too much to his perspective. The sacking of original organist Jimmy Winston for example, gets passed off quickly as a result of him getting above his station but to my uninitiated eye, it would have been more interesting to explore the lash of egos, delve into more of the arrogance that is often assumed to come with being the ‘star’.

Its comedy is sketched in very broad strokes (the less said about its depiction of the north, the better) and there’s not quite the requisite level of dramatic tension that it seems to be building up to. But musically, the show packs a real punch as Samuel Pope’s younger Steve, plus bandmates Stefan Edwards, Stanton Wright and Alexander Gold deliver hit after hit and clearly delighting the fans around me.

So not necessarily my cup of tea but in the fervour it inspired in the majority of the audience, one can see why this show’s journey has been going for a good couple of years now from fringe, to UK tour, to the heart of the West End.

Running time: 2 hours 35 minutes (without interval)
Photo: Phil Weedon
All Or Nothing is booking at the Ambassadors Theatre until 2nd June

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