Let It Be

A celebration of the life and music of The Beatles
Royal Court, Liverpool
8th October - 14th November 2015

Reviewed by Lynda-Louise Tomlinson

However, having seen the recent production at The Royal Court, you would be forgiven for leaving with as much knowledge of the band as when you first sat in your seat. With impressive sets, holograms and clips of the political and cultural history of the time, for example the Vietnam War and the hippie movement, all a real Beatles fan learns of their lives is that they know every answer to the quiz that appears on the television screens before the show begins.

Beginning in the Cavern, with a screen between audience and band, possibly in order to give the impression of the dark and smokey atmosphere of the Cavern Club in the early 60's, the show begins with a slightly lacklustre performance of "I Saw Her Standing There", however once the sound engineer picks up the volume and the band can hear themselves, the energy lifts and we are taken through a set of early numbers with "John" acting foolishly (sometimes overplayed by actor, Paul Canning) and "Paul" giving the audience all the charm and charisma as only Italian Emanuele Angeletti could.

Jumping forward to their trip to America we see real footage of The Beatles arriving, however, with a singalong Yesterday and Ringo's (Luke Roberts) well performed "I Wanna Be Your Man" being upstaged by unnecessary dancing around by John, Paul and Ringo it didn't quite scream Beatlemania.

We are then taken to the film years, opening a short set with A Hard Days Night, a personal favourite, performed well with an impressive backdrop of the famous album cover.

Halfway into the first act comes Shea Stadium, the famous sell-out 1965 performance by the Beatles, attended by over 60,000 screaming fans. Upon the screens we see real footage of the original crowds, blended with video footage of the Let It Be cast, making the actors look slightly more like the real thing.

This section of the show seems stronger than those that have come before. However fans of Paul will be disappointed that "I'm Down" doesn't feature in the set list and John doesn't get to play the keys with his elbow. Still, the band manage to get the audience on their feet long before the interval by throwing in Twist and Shout and encouraging us all to dance.

Sgt Pepper closes the first act, with a sneaky performance of Eleanor Rigby (from the Revolver album) thrown in for a bit of extra Paul, followed by a trippy, psychedelic Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, closing on the reprise of the title track, leading you into the interval comprising of even more Beatles music featuring covers by Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson.

The second act opens with a high energy Magical Mystery Tour and we are brought home to Liverpool by Paul's Penny Lane and John's Strawberry Fields Forever, accompanied by an impressive lighting display saturating the entire stage with strawberries.

An acoustic set follows with a beautiful performance of Blackbird, eventually causing disappointment due to the encouragement to sing along, unnecessary for such a song.

It is during this set that George, the quiet one ( played by John Brosnan) is given the spotlight and blows the audience away with his version of Here Comes The Sun and While My Guitar Gently Weeps, which begins acoustic (a la Anthology) and then with lights, drums and gusto, we are led into the impressive guitar solo, originally performed by Eric Clapton.

The cast really come into their own for their last section - Abbey Road / Let It Be, with the quirky addition of Paul being barefoot. The section opens with an impressive performance of Come Together by Canning and it's not long until the audience are back on their feet for Back in the USSR and Revolution followed by an IPhone torchlit rendition of Let It Be.

The show obviously closes on The Beatles most popular singalong (this time well placed) "Hey Jude", wherein almost every person in the theatre is swaying happily and trying to spot themselves on the big screen.

Non-hardcore fans of The Beatles greatest hits will love this show. It's a light and inoffensive salute to the greatest band there ever was or will ever be. The cast have as much fun as the audience, dancing about the stage, cracking jokes and playing with the rapport that they so quickly build with not only the people in the cheap seats but also the rest of the jewellery rattlers.

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