Winq reviews Epstein: The Man Who Made The Beatles
Last night Winq attended a preview of Epstein: The Man Who Made The Beatles at London’s Leicester Square Theatre. Originally produced to commemorate the Beatle’s 50th anniversary in Liverpool, the show makes its long-awaited West End debut. It’s strength lies in two excellent performances by Andrew Lancel (Coronation Street, The Bill), as an increasingly manic Brian Epstein, and newcomer Will Finlason as ‘This Boy’. The actor’s on-stage chemistry crackles with a delicious sexual frisson that swings between tender confession and sudden violence.
Will channels the louche charm of James Dean (with a Scouse accent) and the earnest zeal of the ’60s as an unknown lad who is picked up in a late night bar by the cool, world-weary Epstein and brought back to his swish pad in Mayfair. Fuelled by drink and drugs the tale unfolds over a single night as the young visitor attempts to uncover the ‘real’ Brian Epstein. He was the gay Jewish manager whose shrewd and controversial management of the Fab Four catapulted them to international stardom. But who was the man behind the band? The man Lennon called the ‘fifth Beatle’ (and who’s holiday in Spain together was the focus of much homoerotic rumour)?
As ‘this boy’ soon discovers, the impeccably dressed entrepreneur has a persuasive but fragile energy hiding his fair share of dark secrets. He liked to go with rough boys and his mood swings reveal a man deeply uncomfortable with his repressed sexuality and an all-consuming fear that he is losing his star group forever. But its not just Epstein who is cherry-picking the truth as we realise the man he has casually picked up might be hiding a deeper motive of his own.
Written by Andrew Sherlock and directed by Jen Heyes, Epstein exercises admirable constraint in its use of The Beatle’s iconic songs, instead mixing archive footage and ambient sounds to great affect. Brian Epstein is soon to get the biopic treatment in not one but two planned films. We highly recommend you get in there first and catch this powerful play, running until September the 6th.