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Epstein: The Man Who Made the Beatles

  • Theatre, Drama
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

It’s not about The Beatles, let’s get that straight. That’s the deal struck by our fresh-faced narrator before this story of Brian Epstein begins. But it is, of course. They swarm over Andrew Sherlock’s play and turn up in every crack and cranny of the life he sketches.

Played with immaculate charm and vulnerability by Andrew Lancel, the man who dragged The Beatles from the sweatbox of the Cavern Club to the pop stratosphere bares his soul to an anonymous teenager as he swigs brandy and pops pills from midnight to morning. When reminiscing about his abortive acting career, he dips into the final act of 'The Seagull', and this is how Sherlock sees that enigmatic man, as the Konstantin of Swinging London. Always on the outside looking in – delicate and self-destructive.

It’s an admirable and finely-wrought portrait, but one that fails to escape the confines of its frame, that somehow never snaps into drama. The slew of details and corrections of accepted wisdom begin to feel fannish rather than searching, the narrative flow disrupted by the tug of history and the flotsam of trivia.

Will Finlason is strong as the nowhere man of a boy, but Sherlock is only fleetingly interested in him as a character; he’s really just a tool for unravelling Epstein and prompting the next Mersey Beat anecdote.

This imagined meeting will be a joy for Beatles fans, and is produced with skill, but like its subject, it struggles to break away from the shadow of the Fab Four.

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