The Beatles are as quintessentially British as fish and chips, and Let It Be celebrates that Britishness in every moment. The first half of this popular West End musical concentrates on telling the story of how The Beatles began, with 60s’ televisions used cleverly as props to transmit performances and give a real sense of era. The second half gets audiences to their feet, with a roof-shaking performance of all the best and most famous hits.
Whether you are a Beatles fan or not, it is impossible to fail to enjoy this feel-good show of toe-tapping music. Let It Be proved to be a good mix of classic Beatles’ tracks, including both the foot-stompers and the ballads. The cast does an excellent and convincing job of portraying the band members, despite the inherent difficulties involved in depicting real life characters, especially when some of those characters are still alive. James Fox, who acts the part of Paul McCartney, stood out as exceptionally true to life, with perfect mannerisms and a hauntingly similar voice. It seemed clear that this was the result of dedicated study and rehearsal, as the precision of the portrayal was such that it could only develop from paying close and repeated attention to detail, both in terms of characteristics and singing voice. Let It Be does a great job of portraying both the different eras and the varying moods of the story. The cast costumes were also very accurate and paid close attention to true-life detail, probably a good thing with so many die-hard fans likely to be in attendance. All the most iconic and familiar outfits and styles worn by The Beatles are included in the show, meaning that the overall result is filled with nostalgia as well as operating as a tribute.
It is this point, however, that would perhaps be my only criticism. The first half tells a story, the second half feel far more like a tribute act, darting around the latter years of The Beatles’ career with only the briefest nod to plot, a musical juggernaut that has lost its way. It feels somewhat as though those behind the production never really decided exactly what they wanted the show to be. However, with music as good as this, Let It Be gets away with it and by the end (with some gentle persuasion from the cast), the audience is on their feet, enjoying all the classics rather as though they were at a gig rather than a musical. The Savoy Theatre is an intimate space that encouraged this interaction between the audience and the cast.
Let It Be, then, is not an in-depth drama and could never be described as an emotional rollercoaster. With music this good, however, it doesn’t need to be. Let It Be will without a doubt enthuse anyone about The Beatles, whether they know everything or nothing about the band beforehand. It is a feel-good celebration of all the best of Beatlemania.
Claire Burnett works at Dawson Rentals in Marketing and Administration. She is a keen theatre-goer, naming Les Misérables as her favourite show. She also enjoys live music and travelling.