John Power and a Fab supporting cast bring Lennon legend alive
This may have been his theatrical debut but in many ways John Power was born to be Lennon.
Both men went to Dovedale and Quarry Bank schools, share a distinct physical likeness and deliver a similar nasal drawl, but a much deeper connection is present on the Royal Court stage.
The Beatles forged the modern musical lineage of Liverpool. Would there have been Cast and The La's without them? Could there have been John Power as we know him without John Lennon?
While Power does not overly impersonate - singing with his own voice and styled in his own long locks - he plays the part with authenticity. All he's got to do is act naturally.
His presence hangs like a white-suited, ghostly spectre over the first half as the early Beatles tale is told, the musicianship and mannerisms of his band-mates captured brilliantly.
Tom Connor originally auditioned for the part of Ringo but his baby-faced looks are perfect for an uncanny turn as Paul McCartney. Mark Newnham may not have a physical resemblance but his young Lennon boasts a believable blend of wry wit and arrogance.
A clever and comic transition sees Ross Higginson morph between drummers with a ruffle of his wig while Matt Breen offers strong support and effortless guitar licks as George Harrison.
Everyone knows how Lennon's life story unfolds but Bob Eaton's production finds fresh and subtle ways of telling it. More than 40 songs are packed into two hours but the ordering and reinterpretation work to fantastic effect.
The two generations of John harmonise on a haunting version of Julia, a fractious Fab Four simmer with discontent while belting out brilliant takes from the Let It Be album and the entire ensemble unites for a stirring version of Imagine.
Nothing is hidden about Lennon's darker side. Jessica Dyas projects the pain and rejection of Cynthia Lennon with a memorable You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away while the full dynamics of John and Yoko Ono's relationship - at turns damaging and inspiring - are explored by Power and Kirsten Foster in the second act.
Assisting all the while is a giant, round screen at the rear of the stage - reminiscent of a single trademark Lennon spectacle - flashing with archive images and footage.
Talented multitaskers Jonathan Markwood and Adam Keast complete the cast, playing a multitude of key figures such as Brian Epstein, Bob Wooler and Stuart Sutcliffe between them.
Lennon is utterly captivating from the first chord to the last. This is a rare and remarkable opportunity to see one Liverpool icon tell the story of another and it is not to be missed.