Let It Be

June 3, 2014 | By More

★★★☆☆ A great gig

The Edinburgh Playhouse Mon 2 – Sat 7 June 2014

The Fab Four are back, delivering hit after hit at the Playhouse every night until Saturday.

Let It Be showcases the music of the world’s greatest rock’n’roll band in a chronological playlist. The show charts the Beatles’ rise from humble beginnings in Liverpool’s Cavern Club in 1962 through the height of Beatlemania and on to their break-up in 1969.

Let it Be The Beatles Early days at The Cavern. Photo © Paul Coltas

Early days at The Cavern. Photo © Paul Coltas

The main star of the show is, without a doubt, the music. Including more than 40 hits it promises to feature everyone’s favourite Beatles song. It is the closest that many will have ever been to a Beatles concert, but ultimately delivers more medley than musical.

Let It Be is essentially a tribute act. But it might just be the best tribute act you’ll see. The touring cast are talented musicians who not only recreate the music, but also seem to embody the essence of the band. Led by James Fox as Paul McCartney, they deliver charismatic performances with expert characterisation.

The cast is backed by multimedia screens that provide the context which would otherwise be lacking and the insight to the band’s story; a story largely portrayed in two halves.

During the first half, the building tension parallels the popularity of the band until it reaches the frenzy at the Shea Stadium in 1965. The screens show live footage of the event coupled with a visual backdrop of the stadium behind. This creates a fantastic atmosphere and a sense of what it would have been like to be at the concert, caught up in the hysteria.

“a truly psychedelic experience”

While the production team has undoubtedly set the pace of the first half to add to this sense of mania, it feels too rushed. Some of the classics lose their subtle nuances in order to squeeze more songs in, and at times some of the vocals sound stretched. In parts too the sound balance of the multimedia is challenging with the background noise overpowering the dialogue.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Photo Paul Coltas

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Photo Paul Coltas

However, there are places where the visuals manage to contribute to the performance. The band’s more experimental stages are superbly enhanced by the visual backdrop providing a truly psychedelic experience. In particular, the set and costume combination during Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is a visual treat.

During the second half the multimedia aspect takes a back seat. Here the screens are mainly used to highlight the external influences on the band, and in turn the effects this has on their music. This departure contributes to a more relaxed, slower pace which successfully gives the impression of an intimate set.

The music is wonderfully faithful to the originals and much of the cast dialogue is taken directly from live performances, which of course urges the audience to stand up, dance and sing along. Close your eyes and John, Paul, George and Ringo could almost be in the auditorium. Almost.

While this production will not satisfy those looking to hear more about the band, get an insight into the Beatles’ complex relationships or indeed the friction that caused their break-up, it is a largely satisfying, hugely entertaining celebration of some of their greatest artistic achievements.

Running time 2 hrs 20 mins (including interval)
Edinburgh Playhouse, 18 – 22 Greenside Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3AA
Mon 2 – Sat 7 June 2014
Daily 7.30pm; Wed, Sat 2.30pm.
Full details and tickets on the Playhouse website: www.atgtickets.com
London venue website: http://princeofwales.londontheatres.co.uk/let-it-be/
The show on twitter: @LetItBeUKTour

Let It Be on tour
Mon 2 – Sat 7 June 2014 Edinburgh
Playhouse
0844 871 3014 Book online
Mon 9 – Sat 14 June 2014 Belfast
Grand Opera House
028 9024 1919 Book online
Mon 16 – Sat 21 June 2014 Dublin
Bord Gais Energy Theatre
0818 719 377 Book online
Mon 23 – Sat 28 June 2014 Sheffield
Lyceum
0114 249 6000 Book online
Mon 30 June – Sat 5 July 2014 Southend
Cliffs Pavilion
01702 351135 Book online

ENDS

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