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Telstar – a sure fire hit that’s simply out of this world!



Review by Emma Whitelaw

NICK Moran was on to a sure thing when he chose to pen the life of Joe Meek. His dramatic, stranger than fiction, short life must be truly a playwright’s dream. One couldn’t ask for more in terms of entertainment!

Telstar has every element you’d expect to find in a great night out at the theatre. It is a comedy, a tragedy, a love story and murder mystery all rolled into one.

Moran himself wanted to bill the play as 'gay sex, drugs, rock and roll, multiple murder and devil worship'.

Meek himself was a deeply complex character. A homosexual, charismatic (if not eccentric), tone-deaf songwriter who produced such hits as Have I the Right, Just Like Eddie, Johnny, Remember Me and, of course, the biggest ever selling instrumental Telstar.

Con O’Neill’s Meek is by far and away the highlight of the evening. As the self-proclaimed genius, he simply oozes with a charm so big that it bubbles offstage in the first act.

The second act sees O’Neill give an outstandingly touching performance. His portrayal of the tragic demise of the overly confident businessman is arguably a work of art. I cannot sing O’Neill’s praise enough; he truly is a gifted actor!

The showcasing of such talent must also be attributed to the sheer genius found in the intricacy of Moran’s dialogue.

There is much scope for showing off one’s talent when one has such an awe-inspiring text to work with.

The play’s structure is deliberately conventional. Moran favouring a linear in structure, taking a day from each year in the life of Joe Meek from 1961 to 1963.

The set, too, is simple; the entire play takes place in Joe’s flat above a handbag shop in 304 Holloway Road.

The very flat which he transformed into one of the first independent recording studios, where at times Meek was recording components in at least three or four areas of the house at one time.

Although it is a relatively small role, Linda Robson is just gorgeous as Meek’s landlord. Mrs Shenton (whom he eventually murders) must have been an absolute saint to tolerate such a tenant. Robson plays her with great sensitivity as Joe’s confidante.

She particularly shines in one of the last scenes where she kicks Joe’s ungrateful and unrequited love interest, Heinz Burt, out of the flat. Screaming she had survived two world wars, she had the audience in absolute stitches.

Meek’s story is indeed one of great tragedy. He was undeniably talented, but blinded by love he made some financially deadly mistakes – mistakes which not only attributed to the death of his company, but to that of his own too.

I have no doubt that Moran will receive the accolades he deserves for bringing the iconic tale of Joe Meek back to life. May the legend live on!

Telstar – The Joe Meek Story written by Nick Moran with James Hicks. Directed by Paul Jepson. Starring Con O’Neill, Linda Robson, Roland Manookian, Gareth Corke, Philip York, William Woods, Tarl Caple, David Hayler, Joseph Morgan, Callum Dixon and Guy Lewis.

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