Ears on a Beatle
John Lennon was always the most interesting of the Fab Four. Even before his murder in 1980 he was the Beatle the world continued to be fascinated by: McCartney had gone onto huge success with Wings, George Harrison had found religion and an artistic freedom previously denied him under the shadow of the Lennon/ Mc Cartney juggernaut and Ringo moved on to narrate Thomas the Tank Engine whilst marrying a Bond girl along the way.
Lennon though managed to hold the ear of the world with his political outpourings and his tireless campaigns for peace. Not surprisingly he also had the ear of the FBI and come to their attention who, concerned about his anti-establishment stance, had him under surveillance whilst also tapping his phones to find out what his next move would be.
It wasn’t so much Lennon himself which alarmed them but how much his views would filter through to a young audience under thirty who, unable to find a voice for themselves in the machinations of politics and authority, would take inspiration from the former Beatle and follow his lead.
This play by Mark St. Germain focuses on two FBI agents who have been assigned the Lennon case. One of them, Daniel (Ben Adwick), is Lennon’s supposed target audience who goes undercover and manages to infiltrate Lennon’s social circle and greater access to the man himself.
The other, Howard (Paul Broesmith), is a much more authoritarian figure who follows life’s rulebook although after an accidental encounter with Lennon also finds his staunch views compromised and questioned somewhat.
The plot is an interesting one although when it jumps from December 1972 to December 1980, the night of Lennon’s assassination, it feels as if a large chunk of the story has been edited and some clarity is lost. Interestingly enough assassination theories and conspiracies, almost as much as Lennon, are a central topic in this production with Martin Luther King and the Kennedy Brothers cropping up at frequent intervals.
Occasionally the acting and staging is a little wooden but more often than not it is effective and gets the message across. As an early show for the Fringe it is highly effective however and if you are out for a ay of shows then I can’t honestly think of a better way to start than with this.
EARS ON A BEATLE is at Greenside, Infirmary Street at 11.25 am daily until August 27th.

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