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NY Theater Reviews

(L to R) Tommy Crawford, Christopher Sears and Christopher Flockton/ Ph: Carol Rosegg

LET IT BE

By SANDY MACDONALD

If two Beatles sitting in a hotel room talking sounds boring to you, you're not wrong.

It’s annoying enough that many new scripts appear to be predicated on Wikipedia entries. Now, apparently, playwrights have begun plumbing the footnotes.

That’s what Bob Stevens has done in Only Yesterday, a brief (70-minute) backwards glance at a night in the life of two Beatles – John Lennon (Christopher Sears) and Paul McCartney (Tommy Crawford) – during their second U.S. tour. It’s September 1964, and the quartet has been temporarily grounded by a storm in Key West. Kudos are due set designer Michael Ganio for the beige-on-beige motel room: It sets the tone for the proceedings to follow.

A snippet from a radio interview with McCartney conducted after Lennon’s death both frames and informs the action (a relative term). Reminiscing, McCartney refers to a late night the two spent “talking, talking, talking,” and that’s exactly what transpires here, interrupted only by a rather generic, semi-comic interlude involving a teenaged fan (Olivia Swayze, disembodied) who gets stuck trying to sneak in via the air vent.

Neither Beatle portrayer is especially adept with the Liverpudlian accent, in marked contrast to Christopher Flockton, playing the band's manager (he comes by his natally). Crawford is at least suitably subdued as McCartney and also proves a gifted guitarist. He’s a co-founder of The Lobbyists, whose show SeaWife earned a Drama Desk nomination three years ago. Sears attempts to capture Lennon’s quirky, semi-hostile humor but lacks the vocal prowess even to pull off a sentimental tune such as “Danny Boy” (here delivered extra-sadly flat).

You were perhaps expecting them to sing actual Beatles tunes? The licensing fees would no doubt have been a stretch, so instead we get snippets from songs that inspired them. The whole exercise is like a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox of a concert poster half a century old. To quote B.B. King, “The thrill is gone.”