21st July 2005
By Philip Ellwood
‘Telstar‘ is the new play written by Nick Moran (best known as Eddie in ‘Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels‘) that tells the story of Joe Meek, the world‘s first independent record producer. The play is set in the 60s and follows Meek‘s life, beginning with his rising success with Telstar - the biggest selling record of its time - through his fiery relationship with his good-looking protege Heinz (Joseph Morgan) to his ultimate breakdown and suicide. Joe Meek is a complex character, at times an unreasonable perfectionist and without a doubt a dreadful businessman. His homosexual leanings led to his downfall, destroying his reputation and pushing him towards insanity.
Con O‘Neill portrays the play‘s lead and creates the character of Joe Meek as a loveable but tortured human being. O‘Neill‘s performance is outstanding. He throws himself into the role with gusto and delivers a very focused yet physical performance. His mannerisms and gestures consistently complement the dialogue and communicate to the audience about Meek‘s state of mind; something that deteriorates as the story unfolds. O‘Neill is at his best when he brings out Meek‘s short temper and irrational behaviour - one such example of this being when he alienates the other members of his group The Tornados after learning that they are making fun of his protege and the object of his affections Heinz. The chemistry between O‘Neill and Morgan is incredible. Morgan portrays Heinz as a stereotypical pretty boy with the absence of intelligence. Heinz is naive and allows himself to become romantically and sexually involved with Meek - a decision he tries to forget as he desperately tries to hide his true sexuality.
O‘Neill and Morgan are surrounded by a superb supporting cast. Linda Robson puts in a solid performance as Meek‘s oft put-upon landlady whilst Gareth Corke puts in a humourous, warm performace as Meek‘s songwriting partner and eccentric Jeff. The cast as a whole gave sterling performances and really did justice to the material. The audience‘s appreciation was clear as during the curtain call the applause was wildly enthusiastic. When an exhausted O‘Neill appeared at the front of the stage the applause was more enthusiastic than the usual audience courtesy.
The play presents the audience with a very multi-layered experience. Moran has managed to inject humour, romance and drama into what ultimately becomes a tragic, sinister tale. At times hilarious and witty yet utterly devastating and heartbreaking in parts, ‘Telstar‘ is a play that everyone should see. It is quite a journey and the final act is quite uncomfortable to watch but ‘Telstar‘ is a rewarding experience for any theatre fan.
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