REVIEW: Lennon, Royal Court Theatre, 28 Aug

Bob Eaton’s
 hit West End musical about the life of Liverpool’s most famous son, John Lennon, has hit the Royal Court Theatre and runs until 14th September. Lennon stars Cast frontman John Power as the man himself along with Mark Newnham as a younger Lennon. Rachel Donohoe went along to review this much anticipated show…

Being a huge fan of Cast and the La’s I was excited and a little anxious to see John Power’s portrayal of John Lennon. The Cast frontman has an amazing voice but it’s very distinct and this was his first acting debut so I was interested to see how he would come across. Power played the older Lennon and came on stage in a white suit looking remarkably like the great man himself with a much studied expression. He’d done his homework and had Lennon down to a T. Taking on the role of narrator, Power played his part well and sang in his own unique way with more than a hint of the former Beatle. It wasn’t like an impression but more an interpretation and I was glad because Power has such a familiar tone.

The play was split in two parts, Lennon’s early life with the Beatles rise to fame and his later more political life with Yoko Ono living in New York. I must admit my favourite was the former, due hugely to the sheer talent of Mark Newnham as Young John Lennon and Tom Connor as Paul McCartney – together they were simply amazing. Newnham was actually my favourite version of Lennon; cheeky, determined, hilarious with an amazing voice AND completely rocked on the guitar! Connor was a mirror image of Paul McCartney as he looked and acted incredibly like him. The energy on stage during Help was filtered right through the audience with Newnham quipping an infamous Lennon line “Can those in the cheaper seats clap your hands and the rest of you just rattle your jewellery”.

The women in John’s life were played well by Kirsten Foster as Yoko Ono and Jessica Dyas as John’s first wife Cynthia. Foster delivered the way Cynthia was cast aside by John movingly and also played the flute and sang beautifully.

The stage was set simply on two levels with lots of instruments which the cast played through out with a single circular screen that took us back with poignant clips and photos throughout Lennon’s life. When Lennon got shot you could hear a pin drop as the audience absorbed the tragedy.

The cast received a well deserved standing ovation and the audience was sprinkled with famous local faces including Gary Christian, Eithnie Brown, Ned from Rain and Michael Starke who I overheard at the bar saying “these kids are brilliant!” (the Young Beatles I presume).

All in all Lennon was an absolute joy to watch, fantastic.

WORDS BY: Rachel Donohoe

LENNON runs at the Royal Court Liverpool until September 14th



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