Melissa Blease reviews the concert celebration of The Beatles, Let It Be, on at Theatre Royal Bath until 1 June
Forget about the fascinating history of the band that’s widely regarded as the foremost and most influential in history. Don’t concern yourself with the political climate of 1960s Britain, against which a musical (and socio-cultural) revolution was instigated. Put all thoughts of Stuart Sutcliffe, Pete Best and Allan Williams aside for the moment. As for Yoko – she’s a definite no-no. Because The Beatles – according to the Let It Be ethos, at least – are all and only about hits, hits and hits.
And all those hits are here, from She Loves You to Hey Jude (I’m going by the order selected by the show’s production company rather than the factual discography here) and including a surreal ‘1980 reunion’ that involves Paul McCartney singing backing vocals for Harrison’s My Sweet Lord and John Lennon strumming along to Wings’ Live and Let Die – ah well; as Lennon himself once said, “reality leaves a lot to the imagination.”
Meanwhile, screens on either side of the stage, fashioned to look like 1960s TV sets, show footage of hysterical American teenagers fainting and swooning and screaming at the Beatles 1965 Shea Stadium concert, hippies doing their peace’n’lurve thang and original vintage TV ads, offering further blast-from-the-past nostalgia to wallow in as the four lads who shook the world shake it up on stage, urging the audience to sing/dance along as they go (which we mostly do, albeit a little bit self-consciously).
As for those four lads ‘themselves’… the Paul, George, Ringo and John doppelgängers do an impressive job of being the band they’re paying tribute to (for we are, when all is said and done, on tribute act territory rather than doing the jukebox musical jive here): Emanuele Angeletti is a cute, doe-eyed McCartney, John Brosnan a suitably sensual Harrison, Ben Cullingworth a just-the-right-amount-of-flashy Starr and Paul Mannion an attitude-laden Lennon.
Sadly, however, there’s not much soul to get properly excited about – in fact, all the tracks from the Rubber Soul album are ignored completely, and anything from A Hard Day’s Night must have been too much hard work too, because none of the tracks from that album are giving an airing either. Weird.
But hey, the Sgt Pepper outfits are great fun, the wigs are groovy and who doesn’t get all misty eyed and sentimental when joining in a massaoke Hey Jude? If that sort of thing floats your boat, this is a great night out. If it doesn’t, then let it be.
Main image: The cast of Let It Be. Credit: Paul Coltas