Rudy’s Rare Records – review
Birmingham Rep

Published: Monday, September 15, 2014 5:04 PM | Review by: Georgina Ramsay | Afridiziak Star Rating:
Lenny Henry as Adam, Jeffery Kissoon as Clifton, Larrington Walker as Rudy and Lorna Gayle as Doreen in Rudy's Rare Records © Robert Day Lenny Henry as Adam, Jeffery Kissoon as Clifton, Larrington Walker as Rudy and Lorna Gayle as Doreen in Rudy's Rare Records © Robert Day

The significance of music throughout the play is equal to that of any other character…

Rudy’s Rare Records is an all-singing, all-dancing musical extravaganza set amongst the dust of a long-running albeit struggling record shop in Handsworth, Birmingham. Directed by Paulette Randall and written by Danny Robins the show is based on Robins’ Radio 4 series of the same name. Lenny Henry plays Adam, the son of the Jamaican-born shop owner Rudy Sharpe (Larrington Walker) who has come to care for his ill father. Rudy’s approach to his beloved shop is “if it ain’t on the shelf, it’s on the floor” and this causes many a conflict between him and his organised son.

Lenny Henry as Adam and Larrington Walker as Rudy in Rudy's Rare Records © Robert Day Lenny Henry as Adam and Larrington Walker as Rudy in Rudy's Rare Records © Robert Day

The plot revolves around the record shop’s financial problems and its difficulty in staying relevant in a world where music can be found with just a click of a button. Nostalgic Rudy refuses to sell up despite his son’s protests as the pile of threatening letters and offers from developers gets higher and higher. The play also highlights the difficulties that record shops face to stay relevant in a world of downloads whilst celebrating the dying breed of record shops, because in the words of Rudy: “you can’t download atmosphere”.


Rudy, played by Larrington Walker is the irreverent grandfather we all secretly wish we had. Despite his stubbornness and tell-it-like-it-is one-liners you can’t help but be endeared by the ‘Rudy Sharpe sizzle’. Even the other characters have a soft spot for Rudy including his streetwise grandson (Joivan Wade) and his on-off girlfriend Doreen (Lorna Gayle). The cast also includes Jeffrey Kissoon in the role of Clifton and Natasha Godfrey as Tasha.


The significance of music throughout the play is equal to that of any other character. Its importance is established right from the start with a mixture of well-loved ska, reggae and blues classics performed by a live band on stage, which kept the audience and characters alike singing and dancing throughout the entire play.

The play explores the themes of cultural and generational differences and it is through the three generations that we see Britain’s past, present and future…


However, beyond the comedic exterior at the heart of the play is a father-son bond as we see the ups and downs of the relationship between Rudy, his son and grandson. The play also explores the themes of cultural and generational differences and it is through the three generations that we see Britain’s past, present and future, showing just how far we’ve come and it is the ability to do this that makes the play observational comedy at its finest.


Lenny Henry as Adam and Natasha Godfrey as Tasha in Rudy's Rare Records © Robert Day Lenny Henry as Adam and Natasha Godfrey as Tasha in Rudy's Rare Records © Robert Day

Info: Rudy’s Rare Records is at the Birmingham Rep until 20 September 2014 | Book tickets | Rudy’s Rare Records will be at the Hackney Empire from 24 September to 5 October 2014 | Book tickets


Larrington Walker as Rudy and Lenny Henry as Adam   in Rudy's Rare Records © Robert Day Larrington Walker as Rudy and Lenny Henry as Adam in Rudy's Rare Records © Robert Day

Related links

Paulette Randall - interview



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