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
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