For one week only, Let It Be arrives at the Edinburgh Playhouse in celebration of The Beatles’ extensive and generation-defining career. Performing the band’s best-loved hits, this theatre-cum-gig takes the audience back to where it all began and re-lives the best memories.
The first half commemorates some of The Beatles’ most iconic performances – opening with the 1973 Royal Variety Performance where John Lennon famously told the rich amongst the audience to ‘shake their jewelry’ - and glides between glorious, equally standout moments (stopping, of course, at the magnificent and ever-radiant Lonely Hearts Club). After the interval, the Beatles join together one final time for the reunion to end all reunions, and play a host of their best-loved hits – including from solo ventures which emerged post-breakup.
So-termed a ‘jukebox musical’, the performers allow the music to speak for itself – interrupted only by interim audience interaction as they transition between instruments and epochs. A multitude of equally stunning lighting compositions by Sooner Routhier and Robert Long bathed the stage in a sumptuous and atmospheric glow, gloriously erupting in the woozy mellow of Strawberry Fields Forever. Michael Gagliano, in particular, was exceptional as John Lennon, capturing his rebellious nature through every wig change and period of self-growth.
The tremendous musical ability of all involved was apparent throughout, but the overall production was woven together a little disjointedly. Four cumbersome TV screens around the stage served to provide footage period-appropriate footage – both of The Beatles’ performances and of adverts of the time. It was a nice idea but the sparkling gleam of 21st century technology clashed somewhat with the nostalgic and vintage illusion produced on stage. Perhaps a filter added to the live footage of the night would have helped to maintain the impression that this is a pseudo-theatrical performance instead of a tribute band. Furthermore, I felt that the booming voice of the compere before and after the show cheapened what those on stage had worked so hard to produce.
Nevertheless, Let It Be is a triumphant celebration of an iconic band. With such an extensive repertoire of timeless classics on which to rely, the production can afford to let the music speak for itself. Excelling in their performances, the cast of Let It Be takes you back to where it all began, and riotously lead us through the defining moments of a still-reigning history.
Let It Be runs at the Edinburgh Playhouse until Saturday 13th October 2018.