Quadrophenia

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Quadrophenia

Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Tue 26–Sat 30 May

The current economic crisis has cast many minds back to the unemployment-wracked 1970s, so it’s perhaps apt that a new stage adaptation of The Who’s Quadrophenia – one of the decade’s most celebrated albums – is touring this year.

Composed by The Who guitarist Pete Townshend, the rock opera revolves around clashes between Mods and Rockers in London and Brighton in the early 1960s and had a profound impact on playwright Jeff Young upon its release. ‘I became a big fan of the album,’ he says, ‘when a teacher played it to the detention class I was in on the very first day it was released in 1973. He was a very imaginative teacher and he knew it would connect with a bunch of disaffected teenage boys.’

This production, adaptated by Young, musical director John O’Hara and director Tom Critchley with Townshend’s blessing, focuses on Quadrophenia the album, rather than the 1979 film. The celluloid adaptation, which starred Sting, Phil Daniels and Ray Winstone, is often praised as one of the best British films ever made, but this isn’t a sentiment that Young shares.

‘Although I was a big fan of The Who, I wasn’t a fan of the film,’ he says, ‘I had my own vision of Quadrophenia from the first time I heard it. The music is very important to me and the film didn’t pay the music the attention it deserved.’ And, despite admitted challenges with adapting ‘the primary vision’ into a sung-through piece, this looks to be a deficiency that Young’s version of Quadrophenia will rectify.

Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Tue 26–Sat 30 May

Quadrophenia

The album-turned-film now turns into a musical and hits Scottish stages on its six-month tour. Four actors (Ryan O'Donnell, Jack Roth, George Maguire and Rob Kendrick) share the lead role of Jimmy while Sydney Rae White is 'The Girl'.

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