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Review: Books, Theatre, Albums, Movies and Gigs

Quadrophenia

Liverpool Empire
August 24 – August 29

Author: Jeff Young from an original score by Pete Townsend
Director: Tom Critchley
Cast Includes: Ryan O’Donnell, Ryan Gage, Kirsty Malone, Sydney Rae White, John Schumacher, George Maguire, Jack Roth, Rob Kendrick.

Running Time: 2 hrs.

Quadrophenia is one of those albums that should be on everybody’s “things to save from a burning house” list. Filled with fabulous references to lost, misunderstood youth, it is an album that surpasses almost everything The Who – and Pete Townsend – had done before or since for its sheer, raw power and atmosphere. Forget the 1979 film – of which there are more than a few references towards in the show - listen to the disc. There really is no comparison. The Real Me, 5:15,  Bell Boy – which here is brilliantly interpreted by Ryan Gage, whose whole performance as The Ace Face is pretty much faultless  - I’ve Had Enough and the wonderfully  enigmatic musical piece, The Rock are all timeless.

 

'Quadrophenia' Promotional Poster

Sydney Rae White and Ryan O'Donnell in a scene frome Quadrophenia


So, with that said, restructuring the album for the stage is no mean feat. Especially when four representations of its central character, Jimmy,  with four very individual sides to his personality ... The Romantic, The Lunatic, The Hypocrite and The Tough Guy ... make a sum of the whole most angst ridden teenagers with a desire to “run” with a crowd need to identify with. Jimmy’s not particularly nice, so sympathising with him on any level is a tough ask. The idea that each personality is supposedly that of the four band members makes the task all the more difficult, given each musician’s legendary status and notoriety. Overall, its done well although working out which is which is a little tough to begin with given that the actors all look alike. Standout performance, however, is undoubtedly that of Ryan O’Donnell whose Romantic gets the best songs and none of which are left wanting.

 

Liverpool’s own John Schumacher plays Jimmy’s abusive Dad in this his debut role. However,  a fabulous singing voice is, it has to be said, let down by the fact that that his acting leaves a bit to be desired. Debut or not, the last time something this wooden was in a theatre the actors were standing on it.

Not so Sydney Rae Wright who’s melancholic version of Love Reign O’er Me is not only a welcome addition to the concept but is just one highlight of a performance that’s delivered with spine tingling brilliance.

Of course it’s the score that’s the main event and this is delivered with a tightness comparable to that of the current Exchequer and with all the power and gusto of a Typhoon.  Added to this is the fact that the four piece band, who are on show throughout, all look uncannily like Entwhistle, Moon, Daltry and Townsend in their heyday.

A striking stage set, tremendous props and some fabulous costumes all add to the feel, but above all else it is the performance of this complex Rock Opera from beginning to that stands out. Okay, the addition of a couple of Who hits such as Substitute and My Generation are a bit superfluous, but the extra padding doesn’t detract either from what is a remarkably fine production.

  • BRIGHTON Theatre Royal 31 August – 5 September
  • WOLVERHAMPTON Grand 21 – 26 September
  • COVENTRY Belgrade 28 September – 3 October
  • OXFORD Playhouse 5 – 10 October
  • WIMBLEDON Theatre 19 – 24 October
  • SOUTHAMPTON Mayflower  26 – 31 October
  • READING Hexagon 2 – 7 November
More Informationhttp://www.quadrophenia.co.uk

 

Click here to view details and book for the Liverpool Empire Theatre
www.liverpoolempire.org.uk


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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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