“I hate the army and I hate the RAF…. / I hate the civil service rules / I won’t open letter bombs for you.” — “Career Opportunities,” The Clash
LONDON CALLING, the Clash musical, might have been better with a live band onstage, but the erratically recorded and mixed instrumental tracks guiding the performers through a dozen or so songs by Strummer, Jones, Simonon, and Headon are somehow more appropriate to the loose, kids-putting-on-a-show feel of what goes on in the Hudson Theatre’s backstage space.
The actors are underrehearsed, the singing is provisional, the choreography is makeshift, and the plot is familiar: four mates from an English backwater form a band, and life—girlfriends, drugs, crime, prison, the army—intervenes. But before all is lost, the lads come to their senses and regroup.
And yet, if you love the Clash (who’s lyrics make up 90% of the show’s dialog), it’s all wonderful. For ninety minutes, from “Garageland” through “Gates of the West,” everyone in the room, onstage and off, is having a great time.
LONDON CALLING was conceived by Mark Hensley, and the book is by Peggy Lewis. “Tom,” the lead, is played by British actor Sam Meader, the one true singer in the ensemble.
LONDON CALLING, through July 9.
HUDSON BACKSTAGE THEATRE, 6539 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood.