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It was 50 years ago this month that The Beatles' first single Love Me Do was released. Now here comes the musical Let It Be, as if we - Norwegian - would.
Shrewdly eschewing any risible storyline a la Queen's We Will Rock You, and thankfully refusing to put cast or audience through the embarrassment of retelling a familiar potted history, this celebration of all things Beatley cuts to the chase and gives us what we want - the songs in a series of virtual concerts taking us from mop-top quartet to hairy hippy peaceniks. Glorified tribute-band stuff this may be but it's done so well I almost wet my seat.
The first section is a recreation of actual Beatles concerts from the ballroom circuit and US Shea Stadium Beatlemania to Sergeant Pepper interwoven with TV appearances and live video pastiche. The second is an imagined rendition of concerts that never were due to the band's break-up.
The initial question you'll be asking is: do they look like them? In the case of Ringo Starr (Phil Martin) and John Lennon (Michael Gagliano) the resemblance is uncanny, even down to Ringo's blissful grin and swaying body language.
George Harrison (John Brosnan) transforms into a dead ringer of the youngest Beatle when the beard goes on and the eyebrow work of James Fox as Macca can be seen from space.
Impeccable note-for-note musicianship hints at gruelling training for the nine actor-musicians rotating as the Fab Four.
Commencing with She Loves You, it shouldn't take long for even hardened authenticity fanatics to find themselves immersed in happier times when we never had it so good, youth meant hope and the working class was in the ascendant.
Helped along by a simple but effective set design - three screens showing contemporary footage - we're skilfully steered down Memory Lane through all our greatest yesteryears.
It's surprisingly affecting. The early Liverpool scenery is a timely reminder of why that city held such rich cultural significance despite subsequent tragedies and whatever Boris might have to say.
The Beatles exploded onto the scene bang in the middle of the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban missile crisis and matured alongside the ban-the-bomb and civil rights politics of the time. Vietnam war and moon landing clips vie with hilariously inappropriate telly ads evoking a lost age.
The show takes some liberties, such as the group performing Give Peace A Chance - actually a vehicle for John Lennon and Yoko Ono. However, it's a welcome bit of flag-waving for '60s values when there's been such an onslaught of attacks on the era.
Flashing up "No War" during the Lennon-Ono "Bagism" phase makes an interesting contrast with the current militarisation of the culture - not so much challenging the status quo, as charming it into submission.
Let It Be, Prince of Wales Theatre, London W1Runs until January 19. Box office: 0844 482-5115.
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