adapted for the stage by Iain Softley and Stephen Jeffreys.
Duke of York’s St Martin’s Lane WC2N 4BG To 24 March 2012.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 871 7623.
Review: William Russell 11 October.
A less than fab four.
This version of Iain Softley’s 1994 film, first staged by Softley last year at Glasgow Citizen’s Theatre, has now surfaced in a production directed by David Leveaux. Efficiently staged and performed with a handsome – set all catwalks, sliding panels and back projections – it adds nothing to Softley’s film and reveals no reasons for joining the ever increasing numbers of films transferred to stage.
Backbeat tells of the early years of the Beatles, when they went to Hamburg to play in some rather sordid clubs. The focus of the show is the “lost” Beatle, Stuart Sutcliffe, the fellow art student John Lennon insisted come along for the ride, and whose musical talent was minimal.
In Hamburg Sutcliffe met and fell in love with the German photographer Astrid Kirchherr, which sent Lennon, who was obsessed with him and felt rejected, into a fury. Sutcliffe’s general incompetence had the same effect on Paul McCartney, who also hated the fact that John had an interest in his life other than the band. Sutcliffe, who had left anyway, died of a brain haemorrhage in 1962 just before the Beatles, with Ringo replacing Pete Best, made their debut album.
Performances are competent, but nobody looks remotely like the real people, and although the actors play their instruments and sing various songs – again competently – there is nothing to stir the blood. And the clichés do proliferate. Nick Blood as Sutcliffe comes off best because he has no preconceived image to live up to, and Andrew Knott makes a fair-enough stab at Lennon, but the rest are puppets on strings. Downbeat is really the word for it.
Stuart Sutcliffe: Nick Blood.
Astrid Kirchherr: Ruta Gedmintas.
John Lennon: Andrew Knott.
Paul McCartney: Daniel Healy.
George Harrison: Will Payne.
Pete Best: Oliver Bennett.
Rosa/Ensemble: Rosy Benjamin.
Bruno Koschmider/Ensemble: Edward Clarke.
Bert Kaempfert/Arthur Ballard/ Inspector/Ensemble: Ben Fox.
Brian Epstein/MC/Ensemble: Mark Hammersley.
Klaus Voormann?Ensemble: Dominic Rouse.
Mrs Moores/Lecturer 2/Ensemble:Louise Shuttleworth.
Tony Sheridan/Ringo Starr/ Lecturer 1/Doctor/ Ensemble: Adam Sopp.
George Martin/Eduardo Paolozzi/Mr Moores/Ensemble: James Wallace
Dance Captain/Swing: Jo Dockery
Ensemble: Josie Dunne, Sam Ford, Charles Swift.
Director: David Leveaux
Designers: Christopher Oram, Andrew D Edwards,
Lighting: Howard Harrison, David Holmes.
Sound: Ed Clarke, Paul Groothuis.
Original Incidental Music/Music Supervisor: Paul Stacey.