Directed by Jamie Lloyd, this musical is based on the best-selling 1987 novel by Irish writer Roddy Doyle who also wrote the stage adaptation for the West End production.
Set in working-class Dublin in the 1980s, the story follows the unlikely success of a group of ordinary musicians who achieve extraordinary success with their soul band amidst a bleak by bawdy background.
Critics have applauded the production's cast, stage set and energetic performances of soul classics but have criticised the lack of social commentary present throughout Doyle's novel which used soul music to connect oppressed, black America with working-class, white Ireland. Prior to Dublin becoming a multi-cultural society in the late 1990s, the musicians describe the (white) Irish as being the "blacks of Europe" and Dubliners, in particular, as "the blacks of Ireland."
The story gained international appeal in 1991 with Alan Parker’s massive hit film version which, although an English-language production, was reportedly screened with subtitles in some American cinemas due to its strong Dublin accents and colloquialisms.