John Lennon: In His Own Write, Edinburgh Fringe review: Use of outdated pejorative words dates a piece which is otherwise freshly eccentric

In many places it’s amusing, and that’s largely down to pinpoint delivery of Lennon’s off-beam wordplay

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The Independent Culture

Not staged in full in the UK since Victor Spinetti turned it into a play at the National Theatre in 1968, John Lennon’s 1964 short story and poem collection In His Own Write is an interesting curio from the late Beatle’s early career. A bunch of whimsical experiments in wordplay, it still attracts a cult audience for comedy reminiscent of that of Spike Milligan and the Goons. Here, following a crowd-funding campaign, Baldynoggin Productions has turned Lennon’s stories into a bunch of theatrical sketch vignettes.

The company’s staging of the play is very good, with an animated backdrop of Lennon’s minimalist sketches from the book guiding us through stories like the pantomime-esque “Treasure Ivan” and the television news parody “Panorasthma (BBC)”, while the actors give life and personality to the most fleeting of characters.

In many places it’s amusing, and that’s largely down to pinpoint delivery of Lennon’s off-beam wordplay (at one point someone is instructed to send a “stabbed undressed envelope”) and bizarre scenarios. Yet for all its sometimes relentless whimsy, the use of some outdated pejorative words dates a piece which is otherwise freshly eccentric.

To 30 August (PBH Free Fringe)

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