In this one-man show, illustrated by short snippets of actual Beatles’ recordings, Nik Wood-Jones traces Evans’ life with the Fab Four from his early days as their van driver and roadie, right through to his role as their all-purpose gofer, and later death at the hands of American cops in LA. Thanks to Wood-Jones’s generally winning performance, the audience were right alongside Evans when he saw The Beatles turned on to marijuana for the first time by Bob Dylan, and again when they met Elvis Presley, an event so humbling for the Liverpool lads that Paul McCartney actually bowed before his regal presence. He also regaled us with an insider’s view of the Beatles scary escape from the Marcos’ government’s mad fury over some imagined insult in the Phillippines, and his not-unkind impersonation of the Maharishi added colour to his retelling of the Beatles adventures with their aforesaid guru in Rishikesh in India.
Along the way, Wood-Jones did passable imitiations of all four Beatles and manager Brian Epstein, while the script studiously reinforced the somewhat questionable image the boys enjoyed as loveable mop-tops. But George Martin, such a key figure in the band’s success, was mystifyingly absent. The script was largely focused on reminding us how much the band relied on Evans for a range of relatively mundane services, including making scrambled eggs for Paul and faking their signatures of photographs for fans. He captured the wry and irreverent sense of Scouse humour of all involved, especially John Lennon and George Harrison, yet there was little sense of joyfulness or celebration at their endless parade of accomplishments.
Evans was not the fifth Beatle this show suggests he might have been, but he was a significant presence throughout their career and probably saw as much of the mayhem as anyone. So for one night only, Nick Wood-Jones made him and The Beatles come alive in the intimacy of the Wexford Arts Centre.