The Scotsman on Quad musical

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at
Thu May 28 11:09:26 UTC 2009 

Theatre review: Quadrophenia
Published Date: 28 May 2009 


ADAPTING Pete Townshend's iconic rock opera for the stage was always going to prove a maddening enterprise, yet amidst a haze of dry ice and nostalgia, Quadrophenia's spirit of inter-generational axe-grinding survives in this new production. 

Familiarity with The Who's landmark 1973 album will benefit anyone seeking to follow Jeff Young, John O'Hara and Tom Critchley's faithful dedication to their source material, but fans of the straightforwardly plotted film version may find this a challenging departure. Young and his fellow scribes have, incredibly, all but junked the scooters, while the mods' clashes with rockers and hedonistic pill-popping are chiefly held back until the second act.

Instead, the opera foregrounds Townshend's vision of Jimmy as four conflicting personalities – the tough guy, the romantic, the lunatic and the hypocrite – supposedly a distillation of Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, Keith Moon and Townshend respectively and each played by a different actor. Setting aside structural imbalance and crossover of these character traits-cum-roles, which encourage recurring thoughts of "which Jimmy is dominating now?" the net result is waves of intense adolescent angst. 

Naturally, it doesn't hurt that these are borne on Townshend's magnificent chords and the music dominates, though, in a populist sop, Who classics My Generation and Substitute have been added to lend the first half greater punch. After some initially wayward sound levels, the young cast apply themselves with controlled vigour and the lack of spoken-word exposition affords an intriguing importance to their movement. Happily, the production all but escapes the smug swagger of Quadrophenia's mid-90s veneration by the Loaded generation, though it does succumb to the charge levelled at Townshend that he might take himself too seriously.

 -Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month! 


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