Review: We Can Work It Out

3 years ago
Aidan Johnson

The Beatles – iconic pop band, cultural icons of an era – and a bunch of egotistical, artistically clashing twits, as put on display by the great play We Can Work It Out. With only the acting and dialogue to really carry the day, the show works supremely well. The cut-back nature managed to fill the entire venue for the first night, carrying the audience across emotional highs and lows, it is definitely something to check out this Fringe season.

Sadly, there was no music, but they definitely make it work regardless.

Set in the pre-Sergeant Pepper era for the Beatles, the show is a mythical (but believable) look into the toll that fame inflicted on the four teenagers from Liverpool. The play is supremely well written – the pacing of lines manages to accurately reflect the emotional decay of each of the band members, while also delivery powerful emotional hits and laughs in the space of a minute. Writer Gabriel Bergmoser should be commended for his research as well as his writing – the language of the performance really reflects the times. 1965’s Liverpudlian slang, even mitigated somewhat to account for the Australian audience, is brought to life. The only downside was the increasingly potent swear words being used, some of which did not resound too well with the Melburnian audience here. Not inherently a bad thing though.

The acting was brilliant. The play features Kashmir Sinnamon as John, Karl Sarsfield as Paul, Troy Larkin as George and Brett Wolfenden as Ringo. You can definitely tell these guys knew what they were about, and all of them kept the tension from Bergmoser’s script ramped all the way up. Rage, envy, betrayal, lust, and all manner of emotions are shown, and they somehow manage to appear more and more drunk as the show goes on – despite there being no actual liquid in the bottles they were “drinking” from. You could sympathise with George, pity Paul, understand John, and feel Ringo, all because the actors brought the script to life. The best part is they managed to show thoroughly unlikable characters, and yet still make them enjoyable. Quite a skill.

The minimal set really drew attention to the acting. The venue really felt like a green room or other post-show, and that added to the vibe of the production. The costumes were all early Beatles in nature – and their dishevelled state was something that was not easy to ignore (read into that all the symbolism of the nature of the play). The lighting was handled well, and the venue managed to make it all come together in a really effective manner.

Overall, a solid show, with powerful moments and a thorough exploration of emotions and tensions in the Fab Four. If you have an interest in the human side of the Beatles – the flawed, greedy, and confused egoists behind their stage presence and legendary status – see this show.


We Can Work It Out is on at 8:30pm at the Butterfly Club until Sunday 30 September 2018 as part of Melbourne Fringe. Tickets can be purchased at the Butterfly Club website or box office.

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