But nobody really got to know Brian Epstein very well, and this is a play which tells of his brief glory years (just five; 1962-67), aiming to set the record straight during an evening in which he confides, confesses and at times, confuses, the lad he has picked up and brought home.
What is immediately established is that Epstein was an extremely smart man, for the two hander takes place in his elegant, monochrome and minimal apartment; it’s beautifully designed (or replicated?). And the events under discussion are often highlighted by multimedia, though sometimes a bit of a random take.
Both actors are exceptional, united by their passion for music. Newcomer (hard to believe) Will Finlason is down to earth and engaging, his portrayal of ‘This Boy’ well intercepted by other characters from anti-semitic homophobe to Brian’s boyhood friend. He makes a marvelous foil to Andrew Lancel as the sensitive and charming Epstein whose unexpected hysterics at one point must be the ultimate hissy fit.
Overall, an evocative and moving history lesson, enlivened with wit - enthralling for those who were there (and still remember it) and a new generation, plus those to come, discovering their musical roots. Playwright Andrew Sherlock has made a cracking job of bringing the story to life, while sterling work by Jen Heyes and Bill Elms have brought it to the theatre and undoubtedly, to a worldwide audience.
Yes, so good, they named it twice: the play and the theatre.
- Carole Baldock