Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Cast: Mike Newstead, Daniel Murphy, Abigail McKenzie, James Markham, Matthew Bromwich.
There are many contenders for the much vaunted and valued position of the fifth Beatle, that often much publicised place in history that has fallen for example on the shoulders of Brian Epstein, George Martin, even possibly Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and perhaps with the wish of many early fans the late Stuart Sutcliffe; however there is one man who arguably stands above them all and it is only thanks to history, historians, to the faithful in Liverpool and Hamburg that the truly remarkable Pete Best is quite rightly remembered as being the Beatle who should have been.
Written by Peter Harrison and directed by recent L.I.P.A. graduate, the superb Sarah Gallegos, Drums Along The Mersey deals with the life of Pete Best, the original drummer with the band that changed the world and a gentleman and his family to whom the world should owe great thanks to; for as the play shows, everybody may remember Brian Epstein’s involvement and rightly so, but it is to the nurturing of Pete’s mother, the incomparable Mona Best, to whom the world owes thanks.
The story of Pete Best is wrapped up in between three giant forces of nature, Brian Epstein, the unrivalled Mona Best and The Beatles, the fall out as the play suggests was one that truly hurt but ultimately he is the man who has survived and been part of Liverpool life ever since, never moving away from his beloved city. Drums Along The Mersey is a tender story but one with a story of sad history attached to it, although nobody could consider that The Beatles without Ringo would have made the changes to pop history, the sheer scale of betrayal shown to Pete Best is one that cannot be simply forgiven nor forgotten.
The words that were exchanged between Brian Epstein and Mona Best when she found out what had taken place, the sacking of her son from behind the drum kit of the band, was portrayed as such with polite venom, a no fist fight in which verbal conquest between a mother’s love and the calculating mind of a man with image and sound of The Beatles uppermost in his mind.
With the superb James Markham portraying Brian Epstein, the talented Abigail McKenzie playing Mona Best and Mike Newstead holding the two together as the older Pete Best, this theatrical endeavour to show the real Pete Best, the man to whom so much is owed, was one of carefully driven heart and one that invoked so much from the times.
A well handled play, directed wonderfully by Sarah Gallegos, Drums Along The Mersey reminds the audience member to make sure they are not left out of history’s final tally, a point everyone should always remember.
Ian D. Hall