Theatre Review: Quadrophenia, 26 May, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

26 May


While this new stage production of The Who’s Quadrophenia is quite clearly based on the 1973 album of the same name, there’s a good chance that many of the show’s audience will only ever have seen or heard of the film version, which itself has no sudden outbursts of song from its young leads.

Set in the early 1960’s, when battles between the Mods and the Rocker’s on Brighton beach made news headlines across the country, the plot centres on the teenage Jimmy, or rather the four aspects of Jimmy – romantic, lunatic, hypocrite and tough guy – which inhabit his emotionally charged mind.

As Jimmy ducks and dives from one personal disaster to the next, his mind reeling with possibilities and choices, he meets The Girl and falls in love, only to see her taken from him by a rival.

A fateful trip to Brighton will soon find his life changed again, though not necessarily for the better.

With its storyline told only in song, Quadrophenia demands audience attention at all times, something achieved here thanks to the powerful performance of the band and the strong vocals of the cast, in particular Ryan O’Donnell as “romantic” Jimmy.

Tim Roth’s son Jack steps out of his father’s shadow with another impressive turn, while Sydney Rae White’s version of Love, Reign O’er Me proved the hit of the evening.

Set-wise, the show looks like every penny has been put on stage, an impressive central rotating section allowing the cast to clamber over and around it while acting out the emotionally charged scenes of death and destruction.

A glorious attack on the senses, it’s mesmerising final sequence clearly rehearsed to within an inch of its life, this is everything good musical theatre should be, plus a little bit more for good measure.

Until Saturday 30 May

Visit the Festival Theatre website for booking details or the Quadrophenia website for more information.

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3 Responses to “Theatre Review: Quadrophenia, 26 May, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh”

  1. Ross White 27 May, 2009 at 10:04 am #

    I was lucky enough to attend the opening night of this musical also, and it exceeded all my expectations. Having never attended a ‘proper’ stage musical before I was a little worried it might fall short of the mark. But from the moment the first (brilliantly played) notes washed over the audience, I was transfixed. My friend, who also attended, and I are both musicians so naturally we were as interested in the music and how it was played as we were in the actors performances. Neither dissapointed. Ryan O’Donnell especially was great, sounding not unlike a certain Mr. Daltrey, and I agree Sydney Rae White’s Love Reign O’er Me was first class. I enjoyed this musical immensely and will be telling everyone I know to get in there before it closes!

  2. Elvis McCartney Townshend 28 May, 2009 at 8:44 am #

    WOW, This sounds like an amazing show. The Who are a unique force in music and modern culture. Their charisma is nuclear. This new theatre production sounds like it hits all the right spots. Well done to all involved. Cant wait to see it.

  3. stewart moffat 29 May, 2009 at 1:37 pm #

    O M G can’t believe how amazing it was

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