Wednesday, 6 August 2014

SECRETS OF THE FIFTH BEATLE ...

EPSTEIN: THE MAN WHO MADE THE BEATLES
By Andrew Sherlock, starring Andrew Lancel as Brian Epstein and Will Finlason as 'This Boy'

How to process this moving and disturbing play, which was rave-received, deservedly so, on its First Night at the Leicester Square Theatre, Monday. It occurs to me what Brian saw in those legendary 'first three minutes' he gave John, Paul, George and Pete Best (pre-Ringo), beyond their talent, chemistry, magical hold over an audience, and their - as he described it - 'charm'. A would-be but didn't-quite-have-it actor, Epstein perceived, in an instant, a way to make himself cool. A way to become, not only socially acceptable, but one of the most desirable beings on earth. Those four unusual boys would be his passport to fame, fortune and reflected glory. His ticket to ride. The key to shaking off his tormented childhood, putting behind him the misery and angst he had grown up shackled by. Largely but not only thanks to having been born both Jewish and gay.

It is no accident that this play is set in 1967: the year that homosexuality was decriminalised. The piece hinges on the backward glance, through the eyes of a fan and would-be music writer, who wants to tell Eppy's story as it really happened and not as just another predictable rehash of the sanitised version in the rock manager's autobiography, 'A Cellarful of Noise'. Their encounter dredges the depths of Brian's true personality, taking him closer to the wall than he has dared to go in years. A day later, at only thirty-two, he is dead.

Pink Floyd's Nick Mason found it 'excruciating to watch,' he said. 'It's so true.' Frankie's Holly Johnson looked a bit gobsmacked. Gary Crowley On-Air said it was 'raw' and 'thrilling', with which I have to agree. The turn-out spoke for itself. Good to see David Wigg, Henrietta Knight, Kevin O'Sullivan, Mike McCartney, Philip Norman, Lloyd Beiny and his first wife Hazel, James WoodleyAnita Maguire. Heartfelt thanks, as always, to David Stark, the Everywhere Man, who makes it happen.

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