|Naomi Price performs Lady Beatle at the Adelaide Cabaret festival|
Performed by Naomi Price. Created by Adam Brunes and Naomi Price. A Little Red Company and La Boite production. The Dunstan Playhouse. Adelaide Festival Centre. June 9-11 2017.
Reviewed by Peter Wilkins
|Naomi Price as Lady Beatle|
Australian cabaret star Naomi Price’s tribute to the genius of the four lads from Liverpool is a thrilling and brilliantly entertaining rollercoaster ride of emotional magic, transporting audiences through the years that the Fab Four changed the world of music. Through the eyes and experiences of Lady Beatle we are transported from Penny Lane on a Yellow Submarine ride of enchantment to visit Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds and return to Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band to travel through songs of life, love and peace. Price’s art, supported by her talented band under the musical direction of Andrew Johnson, is to weave a magical mystery tour of anecdote, song and revelation, threaded with the feisty force of emotional power and a bursting passion for the immortal songs of the Beatles. In the fiftieth year since the release of the Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album Rice’s Lady Beatle is a soul-stirring and uplifting tribute to the lads from Liverpool.
The pre-show recorded Country and Western music and the smooth gospel sound of Elvis Presley could give little clue as to the brilliant performance that was soon to burst upon the stage. Dressed in a grey Sergeant Pepper style dress and with dark glasses beneath her straight Sixties cut hair, Lady Beatle, colour blind like her species, evoked the cold, grey vista of the Mersey town, in contrast to her rendition of the vibrant colour of the songs that the Beatles brought into the world. The poetry of the lyrics sing with meaning on the breath of her powerful voice, and an audience sits riveted, entranced and enchanted , not only by her astounding talent, but by the burning emotion of an outsider desperate to belong, and finding in the songs of her heroes the security of love, peace, equality and belonging.
What begins as a tribute in song becomes an anthem to their gift to the world and in the end a eulogy for the genius who lay behind the success and the enduring legacy of the four lads who sang covers in Liverpool’s Cavern before being brought into the light and coloured world from the darkness of obscurity. Tears well and the throat chokes as alone on stage, Lady Beatle sings the tragic fate of Eleanor Rigby and reminds us of a gay Jew, desperate to belong and yet dead of an overdose of prescription drugs before his thirty first birthday. How well we may remember Sir George Martin and his influence as the record producer of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but who remembers their first manager and proclaimed “fifth Beatle”, Brian Epstein, once again brought to life with such poignancy, such heartfelt adulation by Price in her fantastical persona of the Lady Beatle.
Only Paul and Ringo remain, and it is not likely that Epstein would have approved of Paul’s gig with Kanye West and Rhianna or Ringo’s stint as the voice of Thomas the Tank Engine. What he would have approved of would be Naomi Price’s superb storytelling in anecdote and song, not only of characters and events, but more importantly of the spirit and the poetry that inspired and created the feeling to belong, and fight against the judgement of others in a world of negativity, pain and struggle.
Suspended above Lady Beatle, pipe tubes of light cascade their individual sequences of colour in a masterful display of glimmering light and colour. Alan Watt’s voice-over metaphor of the beetle that waits for the sun, unaware of a future, leads us into hope and optimism with Price’s electric rendition of Here Comes The Sun and the audience leap to their feet during a final Beatles medley in celebration of a time, a music and four guys from the city of Liverpool who cast aside class to prove that we are all one and all you need is love. A Beatles CD lead us out as the lights restore and Lady Beatle leaves us bathed in the magnificent colours of her shining talent. .