Unity Theatre, Liverpool
23rd – 24th September 2016
Reviewed by Lynda-Louise Tomlinson
Ticket to Write is an annual celebration of original works written about the Beatles. Now in its fifth year, we are presented with two plays, both contrasting in style and genre.
Drums Along the Mersey, written by retired Liverpudlian journalist, Peter Harrison gives us a brief insight into fifth Beatle Pete Best and his mother Mona. After moving to Liverpool, it is claimed that Indian born Mona “Mo” Best pawned all of her jewellery and used the money to place a bet on a horse, Never Say Die. The Best family used the money to buy a house. Number 8 Haymans Green would later become better known as the name of Pete Best’s album released in 2008. Mona is best known for having opened The Casbah Coffee Club in the basement of the house.
Three regular players of The Casbah, who also helped with the decorating, were John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison, who then were still members of The Quarrymen, John Lennon’s band formed at his school, Quarry Bank High School in Liverpool.
Drums Along the Mersey features a small cast, playing the roles of Older Pete (played by Mike Newstead) who acts as a narrator of the story. Younger Pete (Daniel Murphy) Mona ( Abigail McKenzie) and an outstanding performance by James Markham as Brian Epstein.
Short but sweet, the play gives you a heartfelt summary of Pete’s time as a Beatle and the affect it had on his family and himself. Although only the basic, well documented elements of that time were presented, the cast were strong and believable. A nice tribute to the “Beatle” that people may have forgotten.
The second play, Shake it up Baby, written by Suzan Holder tells the story of a Beverly Wilson – a passionate Beatles fan who goes online looking for love. Speaking to the audience throughout, we begin to build an emotional connection with the character Beverly, making her story all the more moving.
A great performance was given by Jackie Jones as “Bev” and a supporting cast, playing multiple roles showing the extremes of online dating – from the looking-through-the-window failures to the cat obsessed and the horny.
Through Bev’s story, the audience are made to laugh, cry and as Beatles fans, support our fellow fan through her trials and triumphs. Just when you begin to lose hope, the story takes a very positive turn to prove that dreams can come true.