Review: Quadrophenia

David PowlesNorwich Theatre RoyalDavid Powles


The Mods are back!

And I don't just mean those in the new stage show of cult-classic Quadrophenia at Norwich's Theatre Royal.

This is because last night's opening performance of the week-long show saw dozens of the scooter-riding mob dust-off their helmets and put on their tight-fitting jeans to head en masse through the streets of Norwich to check out the latest reinvention of the classic rock opera penned by The Who.

And they won't have rode home disappointed as the stage adaptation maintains all the passion, teenage angst, hedonism, soul-searching and of course top quality tunes as the popular film.

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Most people's knowledge of Quadrophenia will probably be the 1979 film starring Phil Daniels, Ray Winstone, Leslie Ash and Sting.

However, don't expect to simply see the film played out on stage, as this adaptation has a life and character all of its own.

While it stays true to the original concept - the focus is still on the trials and tribulations of troubled Mod Jimmy - on stage four different actors are used to represent the different aspects of Jimmy's split personality: the romantic, the tough guy, the lunatic and the hypocrite.

And it is a really affective way of highlighting the inner turmoil Jimmy suffers as he literally battles and fights on stage with each differing personality as he tries to cope with issues surrounding his parents, a desire to fit in and the girl of his dreams.

There is no dialogue in the show - its all sung, and very well sung at that - but that did not detract from being able to follow the story as it unfolded.

And even if it did, it would matter little because, as you would expect with something penned by one of the most successful bands in the world, it is the music which is the star.

Some strong performances, in particular the menacing Tom Robertson as The Gang Leader, and Jack Roth as Jimmy the Lunatic, backed up with some fantastic axe-wielding by the full backing band, help make this stage show soar.