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Lennon Through A Glass Onion – Epstein Theatre, Liverpool

Writer/Director: John R. Waters
Reviewer: John Roberts

Lennon Through A Glass Onion, may have finally landed in its spiritual home of Liverpool, but this production feels more like a solemn wake than a celebration of one of the city’s most loved sons.

John R. Waters’ production never really settles into a piece that can easily be categorised; it’s not quite a concert of Lennon’s massive catalogue of musical hits, it’s not quite a spoken word piece that really shines in showing the wit and wisdom of the pop star,and it certainly doesn’t provide enough theatricality to be a production of long lasting impact. It all feels a little cheap and easy (bare stage, one piano and one guitar) and if one is allowed to be cynical feels like an easy cash cow, especially in the homeland of its hero.

While the production as a whole doesn’t live up to the hype and expectation, Daniel Taylor’s understated portrayal of John Lennon is sublime. Kitted out in stone wash double denim and trademark round glasses, Taylor not only looks the part, but he nails the accent and dulcet monotonous tone of the musical icon perfectly. Taylor also pitch-perfectly delivers over 30 songs from Lennon’s canon of music, it’s just a shame that such a talented performer is given nothing more to do than stand in front of a microphone, sing, move from microphone and talk… stand in front of a microphone and sing and so on… And that’s the extent of the direction from Waters for the two-hour production… As a result, Lennon Through A Glass Onion lacks any real punch and poignancy.

Throughout the production, Taylor is joined on stage by musical director Stewart D’Arrietta who plays a mini grand piano, which is sometimes amplified so loudly that it distorts in the auditorium, and some ill-thought-out moments including borderline racist impressions of ethnic minorities leave a slightly bitter taste in the mouth. However, it is clear that he is a talent musician but he should just be that, a musical accompaniment to the main attraction, instead D’Arrietta tries to overpower proceedings on a number of occasions – much akin to a tug of war contest, where one side just won’t give in.

There is something hiding beneath the skin of this show that shows real promise, there are certainly more layers of the onion to explore… the anecdotes are interesting but more can and should be done with how they are presented to the audience. At the moment, this is a bland Onion Soup… it lacks finesse, depth and passion. What Lennon Through A Glass Onion needs is to go back to the start of the recipe and add love, care and a heavy dose of seasoning and maybe the show that is struggling to come out will appear.

Runs until 29April 2016| Image: Contributed

Writer/Director: John R. Waters Reviewer: John Roberts Lennon Through A Glass Onion, may have finally landed in its spiritual home of Liverpool, but this production feels more like a solemn wake than a celebration of one of the city's most loved sons. John R. Waters’ production never really settles into a piece that can easily be categorised; it's not quite a concert of Lennon's massive catalogue of musical hits, it's not quite a spoken word piece that really shines in showing the wit and wisdom of the pop star,and it certainly doesn't provide enough theatricality to be a production of…

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    Four of us saw this on Tuesday and we loved it. I loved the starkness of the stage, it made Lennon look more an apparition re-telling his life events. I thought it humorous, nostalgic and poignant. I would go to see it again.