Most concert films are just that, concert films of particular shows or selections from overall tours, while rock documentaries on the other hand may show the recording of an album, interviews in studio, promotional appearances and the like. The Cure Play Outsteers its own curious path, capturing the band at a series of appearances in and around London in the first two months of 1991 unconnected with any particular release or album. The first segment consists of a small club show as a warm-up for new material and a headlining date for the Great British Music Weekend festival. Two then new songs, "Wendy Time" and "The Big Hand," make a debut here; the latter is especially fine, easily rivaling its eventual appearance as a B-side for "A Letter to Elise." Another new number, "Away," would eventually turn up on Wish as "Cut" - the slightly slower but no less accomplished reading here makes for an excellent contrast. Next up are the Great British fest clips - as is the case with Cure dates at multi-band affairs, the emphasis was on a greatest hits set. The one semi-ringer is "A Forest," here given its usual expansion into an intense ten-minute-plus epic. Next up are snippets from the band's MTV Unplugged session. The conclusion features the rehearsals, then the fine, fierce performance of "Never Enough" on the annual Brit Awards, interrupted by an amusing detour in their record company's offices and topped up with the presentation of "Best British Group" by Roger Daltrey to make an appropriate enough climax. Interspersed between all the performances are various backstage clips and amusing detours, right to Spinal Tap-like wandering in hallways up to cavernous stages and the like. Ragged but right, Play Out is both a fun diversion and a solid collection of fine performances. Completists will want to note that the UK and Japanese versions include more from the Unplugged performance, including a complete take on "If Only Tonight We Could Sleep," and two songs played on a UK TV show, "Harold and Joe" and the group's cover of "Hello, I Love You."
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett