John Lennon: In His Own Write

Aug 27 2015 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩     Fab

The Voodoo Rooms (Venue 68b): Sat 8 – Sun 30 Aug 2015

Energetic and funny, Baldynoggin’s staging of John Lennon: In His Own Write at the Voodoo Rooms on the Free Fringe has a real wit and verve.

John Lennon’s 1964 collection of stories has been turned into a play before by Victor Spinetti, in combination with its sequel A Spaniard In The Works, but this marks the first time the whole book has been depicted on stage, with the permission and co-operation of Lennon’s estate.

Cassie Vallance, Peter Caulfield, Jonathan Glew. Photo: Simon Johns

Cassie Vallance, Peter Caulfield, Jonathan Glew. Photo: Simon Johns

The stories, sketches and poems of the original evoke both Edward Lear and Stanley Unwin in their nonsensical situations, use of homophones and gibberish. Often related to childhood, they occasionally display Lennon’s notorious cruel streak and there is certainly the odd reference that will trouble a modern audience. However, on the whole they hold up surprisingly well.

What makes this production notable is the variety and energy of the performances. The decision to mount the whole book inevitably means it is not all of the same quality, but there is a real speed and skill here. Sketches, songs and poems come and go in different styles, and the most notable thing is the variety of accents used, with the cast’s versatility being obvious without it ever appearing to be a showcase for it.

Jonathan Glew could probably corner the market in shaven-headed heavies on soap operas if he wanted, but he is equally good in the soft-hearted, soft-headed parts. Peter Caulfield is an obviously talented comic actor comedian. Best of all is Cassie Vallance, whose spot-on timing and spiky energy bring everything to life.

Clever projections are used to include Lennon’s illustrations, while judicious utilisation of simple props means the space is used to its best advantage. Careful thought about how to present each section means Deaf Ted, Danoota and Me has a ludicrous energy and Randolf’s Party an egregious cruelty, while I Remember Arnold appears genuinely touching and surprisingly profound.

There is an obvious attraction here for Beatles obsessives, but the charm, wit and care on display would also satisfy most others.

Running time 1 hour
The Voodoo Rooms (Venue 68b), West Register Street, EH2 2AA
Saturday 8 – Sunday 30 Aug 2015
Daily at 5.10 pm
Part of PBH’s Free Fringe
Free, unticketed
Information at
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