Opened 24 June 2005
Written: by Nick Moran with James Hicks
Directed: Paul Jepson
Cast: Con O'Neill (Joe Meek), Linda Robson, Tarl Caple, Gareth Corke, Callum Dixon, David Hayler, Roland Manookian, Philip York , William Woods
Synopsis: TELSTAR traces the rise and tragic fall of an iconic figure of British pop - Joe Meek , Britain's first independent record producer and original rock 'n' roll pioneer. Transforming his tiny flat over a handbag shop in the Holloway Road into a recording studio, Meek produced three massive hits of the period, including the self-written Telstar - one of the biggest sellers of all time. Meek's passion and drive came hand in hand with a volatile and belligerent manner, which, fuelled by a paranoia-inducing amphetamine addiction made him impossible to work with; his spiritualism led to claims that the dead Buddy Holly was the true author of many of his songs. This black comedy takes us back to the mad days and nights of Meek's recording sessions between 1961-67, his turbulent career and relationship with his band - a maverick group of local kids; his fateful alliance with land-lady Violet Shenton (Linda Robson);his unrequited love for one-hit-wonder protege Heinz and his blind support for his homegrown acts such as Screaming Lord Sutch while he showed the door to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Tom Jones and many others. Uncovering the humanity and humour behind the legend, TELSTAR explores the loneliness and heartbreak of a frustrated genius and the energy and power of music to transform lives - for better or for worse.
What the critics had to say.....
LYN GARDNER for THE GUARDIAN says, "There are a few smart exchanges...But, like Meek himself, it is hardly theatrical rock'n'roll." IAN JOHNS for THE TIMES says, "The play, a sometimes uneasy mix of farce and tragedy, too often seems like a series of footnotes and incidental details rather than a well-rounded portrait." DOMINIC CAVENDISH for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says, "It's an evening that is always mildly informative when it isn't being 100 per cent entertaining, and O'Neill is never less than engaging, making you somehow warm to a man who often acted like a spoilt child." NICHOLAS DE JONGH for THE EVENING STANDARD says, "slick production." On Con O'Neill he says" remarkable male performance.." SARAH HEMMING for THE FINANCIAL TIMES says, " It's interesting as biography... rather than as drama, which gives the play a rather underpowered feel....It's informative, funny and certainly well acted - yet this play leaves you wanting more." PAUL TAYLOR for THE INDEPENDENT says, "Con O'Neill turns in a magnificent performance in the central role....The great thing about O'Neill's portrayal is that it never succumbs to the temptation of caricaturing the man."