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Lennon – Royal Court, Liverpool

Writer: Bob Eaton

Director: Bob Eaton

Reviewer: Laura Orton

Following rave reviews in 2010 and 2013, with pleas for it’s return, Lennon is back with a score of some of the most famous and best loved songs in history. Covering the life and death of The Beatles most famous and (arguably) most talented member John Lennon, this production takes you through some of the most significant moments in his existence.

If you are a Lennon fan, you may as well stop reading here. This production is a concert of his best written songs from start to finish. The cast are also the onstage band, so the live music is a joy to listen to. You will love it, regardless of anything else said below.

John Power (front man from 90’s Brit pop bands Cast and The La’s) acts as older John Lennon providing a narrator for the first half. While Mark Newnham plays his teenage counterpart. This first act is a fast moving sing along with heavy emphasis on The Beatles and their hits. Newnham is charismatic as the sarcastic young Lennon. His partner in crime Paul McCartney is played by a fantastic young man Tom Connor, who has the swagger of McCartney down to a tee. Connor’s only flaw perhaps is that his McCartney outshines Newnham’s Lennon, he is that good.

The second act consists of some of the lesser known Lennon tracks, as it plots his life after The Beatles. This is where Kirsten Foster comes in as Yoko Ono and John Power steps out of narrator mode and into being older Lennon. The direction and drive of the first act is lost, as are a lot of the tapping feet in the audience.

Confusingly, all through this performance, but more so in the second act, is the fact there are nine cast members playing 39 characters. Sometimes it is difficult to work out who they are playing at any given time. For example Newnham comes back on stage after he is no longer Lennon, as a Roadie for Lennon. There isn’t enough distinction between the rôles being played for this type of device to work.

Equally confusing and disappointing is the detail left out of his life. While it is impossible to condense one mans life into a couple of hours, it is strange that Bob Eaton has chosen to mention his first marriage to Cynthia when she was pregnant, but then neglected to mention her or the child again. The production is littered with points like this that are missing. Without already knowing these details of his life before watching this production, this comes across as a huge hole in the ‘plot’.

Had Lennon been about anyone other than John Lennon, this simply would not work. The method of pulling the story from one song to the next by someone facing the audience and just talking through a link is a tedious way to carry the narrative. The confusion in the mass or characters and in missing story elements would normally be fatal to a show. However, Lennon’s music was brought alive by the direction of Howard Gray and the fantastic cast who are brilliant musicians. This alone makes Lennon very enjoyable.

Photo: Dave Evans | Runs until: 19th of July 2014

Writer: Bob Eaton Director: Bob Eaton Reviewer: Laura Orton Following rave reviews in 2010 and 2013, with pleas for it’s return, Lennon is back with a score of some of the most famous and best loved songs in history. Covering the life and death of The Beatles most famous and (arguably) most talented member John Lennon, this production takes you through some of the most significant moments in his existence. If you are a Lennon fan, you may as well stop reading here. This production is a concert of his best written songs from start to finish. The cast are…

Review Overview

The Public Reviews Score

Enjoyable

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