Review: Beerey (Cavern Club)
Updated: Jun 2
Trying to take a story from around 2010-2011, and make it relevant enough to inspire action today, is a challenge for any piece of theatre. "Beerey" is a solo performance written, directed by and starring Lois Temel about the miscarriage of justice faced by Jon Beere and his suffering family after a wrongful conviction resulted in him being sentenced to 24 years in prison, along with the "Freshwater Five" who were also convicted.
The show is structured between verbatim monologues from Beere's wife Sue performed by Temel interspersed with filmed documentary segments giving evidence of the their innocence. Unfortunately the phasing from one segment to another felt jarring. Temel's monologues are intimate and full of personality, and the videos by contrast are entirely fact and quite bland. That is not to say these segments were bad but that they felt very out of place, and while each half on its own would have been interesting or moving, blocking the two so obviously damaged whatever tone Temel was trying to achieve.
Her performance during the monologues is natural and often very moving. There is no performance sheen or pretence, just a sincere and respectful representation of the woman she is quoting. Touches like telling one story then breaking off to another, often perfectly blending tones from humorous to melancholy in the process, enhance the level of realism. The focus is on Sue and her family coming to terms with their new circumstances, including a new addition to the family to add to the stress, which makes the story approachable and engages the audience's sympathies.
Having a show that consists solely of monologues delivered from a sofa and video clips unfortunately leaves me without much to say about it. The lack of variety means it feels limited from a theatrical standpoint, meaning I was not as engaged as I wanted to be despite the interesting case. The cause is worthy, and "Beerey" works as a means to convey a message and a call for help, though unfortunately that call for help is all that comes across as opposed to a piece of entertainment, which ultimately is what theatre is for. Nevertheless, Temel's performance is a stunning example of an honest portrayal and verbatim theatre. Three stars.
Whispers from the crowd:
"I thought it was thought-provoking and wrenching"
If you would like to learn more about the Freshwater Five, which I sincerely encourage you too, and sign the petition to assist in their re investigation, go to www.5men104years.com