In the voice-over of an actual radio interview, Sir Paul McCartney reminisces about a night during the Beatles’ 1964 U.S. tour when, due to a hurricane, they were stranded in a cheap, Key West, Florida motel. Paul and John Lennon shared a room. They talked, played music and “I think we must have touched on some points that were emotional… we ended up crying, which was very unusual for us, because we – members of a band and young guys – we didn’t do that kind of thing…”
The Beatles are going stir crazy. A stressed out road manager (Christopher Flockton) tries unsuccessfully to ameliorate the situation. Two phone calls get through. The first is an interview during which Paul (Tommy Crawford) is genial, John (Christopher Sears), predictably cheeky. The second, manager Brian Epstein with news that Jacksonville intends to segregate their concert. John (famously) refuses to play before the 30,000 ticket holders if city government insists. Oh, and fifteen year old Shirley (Olivia Swayze) is stuck in an air vent. They’re quite charming to her.
The boys attempt a game of Monopoly, have a pillow fight, talk about musical influences, sing, play guitar, and even, facing recording deadline, try to write a new song. Both rather drunk, sentimental conversation about early history together leads to (sensitively written) revelations about losing their respective mothers when quite young.
Dialogue is realistic, though if I heard the manager declare them “tossers” one more time I’d scream, and who receives bags of fan mail on the road?! Time and action plays out believably. The play is slight, but has sweetness we recognize in the Fab Two. It revolves around a solid parentheses. The ending is swell.
Christopher Sears doesn’t look much like John Lennon, while Tommy Crawford shares Paul McCartney’s ingenuous cuteness and the familiar mop top. Neither imitates. Crawford is the more credible actor. Both play and sing well enough. Accents, alas, are not very good. Perhaps verisimilitude is extended more to appearance and sound…?
Excepting Paul’s poorly concocted vomit sounds, Director Carol Dunne handles The Beatles well. A mannerism or two might’ve enhanced, but action is loose, youthful, impatient, and warm. Shirley, whom we only hear, is not credible for a moment. The road manager, more of a device, is fine.
Michael Ganio’s set is about as innocuous as a motel room can be imagined.
Costumes by Allison Crutchfield are spot on. Sound design by Jane Shaw keeps music crisp and the storm visceral.
Photos by Carol Rosegg
Opening: Tommy Crawford (Paul McCartney) and Christopher Sears (John Lennon)
Northern Stage presents
Only Yesterday by Bob Stevens
Directed by Carol Dunne
Through September 29, 2019