I must admit, I am typing this Scene It about Epstein: The Man Who Made the Beatles while listening to Michael Jackson… but you can stop gasping, there is a pretty awesome link.
My favourite Beatles song is Come Together and at last night's opening of Epstein at Theatre on the Bay a friend reminded me of the Michael Jackson version of that iconic song. So thinking about it, I realised Epstein’s creative reach of influence goes so much further than any of us realise. He took the Boys out of Liverpool, gave them their Beatles persona and sent them on their way to stardom. In doing so, he paved the way for so many other artist to showcase their unique styles and talents.
But who remembers Epstein? What do you know of the man, his life and his demons … the 5th Beatle who never got the stand in the spotlight?
Sitting in the theatre last night, watching Nicholas Pauling become Brian Epstein, I glimpsed into the soul of this deeply wounded man. The Boys that he catapulted into the limelight in effect killed his spirit. Everything Epstein did was based on a need and desire to be accepted and ultimately loved, because really All You Need is Love. Sadly that is the one thing he never got.
I don’t think I will ever be able to listen to a Beatles song without thinking about this brilliant production, the memories it set to song and more importantly the man who inspired it all. Ultimately, left with his only friends being his drugs and expensive brandy, his life ended in 1967, 5 years after he signed his 5 year management contract with the Beatles in 1962. Was this what the Fates had in store all along?
As with everything in his life, on the outside it all looked neatly compartmentalised and complete, on the inside, behind the armour of style and sophistication, Epstein was really just begging for Help! Is that very cliché a description? Probably. Is it truth revealed? I think so.
Epstein: The Man Who Made the Beatles is really one of the must see productions of the year. It showcases the beautiful chaos that was his real life. A brilliant drama with world-class performances by Nicholas Pauling as Epstein and Sven Ruygrok as The Boy … any boy, the reminder of The Boys … this is truly a play that hits you in the feels.
Ruygrok will leave you amazed as he effortlessly steps into his unnamed any boy Liverpool character and he does not drop the accent for a second, apart from the minute or so when he does an American throwback in one of Epstein’s memory moments. Pauling is perhaps South Africa’s answer to Colin Firth, a sheer pleasure to behold on stage.
With this production everything just comes together so beautifully: the occasional Beatles music flash-back, smart set design with mirror images that at times appear to reflect the distortion that Epstein tried so hard to hide from the public eye, the depth of the text, the brilliant acting, and then the lighting that in the end at long last places him in the spotlight and leaves that final image of Epstein with you forever. Powerful!
This is the type of production that I would go see over and over again, without any hesitation. Definitely in my top 10 shows of the year and (spoiler) very very high on that list too!
Book at Computicket today to see this must see walk down Epstein’s memory lane at Theatre on the Bay. Tickets are R100 to R170, and the show runs until 17 October 2015.