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Review: Quadrophenia - Get on your bike

by Jeni Adshead. Published Wed 26 Aug 2009 12:39, last updated: 26/08/09
Sydney Rae White and Ryan O'Donnell - The Girl and Jimmy, The Romantic (Simon Barrow)
Sydney Rae White and Ryan O'Donnell - The Girl and Jimmy, The Romantic (Simon Barrow)

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A huge poster of Jimmy Cooper's face hangs above the Liverpool Empire his eyes piercing passer-bys as Mods on Mopeds surround the theatre. The audience take their seats; Mods who saw the Sixties sit alongside teenagers who want to live the 1960s experience, and they alongside a hand-me-down Mod way of life generation.

It’s a full house, but that’s to be expected, Quadrophenia oozes cult following from beneath the Moped wheels it rides on.

The simple set design focuses the attention to re-visiting, recollecting and reliving the Sixties. Scene transitions played through a partially spinning stage, introduce a refreshing almost cinematic quality to the production. It also enhances the dance routines, which are performed with such energy and enthusiasm it’s like watching the hit Sixtie’s show “Ready Steady Go” live.

Battle commences on stage and is physical and emotional, toying with your heartstrings. It plays with every teenager's need to fit in as well as standing out of the crowd, and goes through the trials and tribulations of teenage life through Jimmy Cooper's eyes - his mixed emotions and his determination to step out of his father’s shadow and be his own man almost brings a tear to your eye.

Testosterone fills the stage with teenage angst and manly musical solos, providing a revitalised look away from the “American Britain” we are so often shown. The patriotism is enchanting, as is the struggle between Jimmy and his parents, ( John Schumacer and Kirsty Malone) during his troublesome teenage years.

The music is the foremost part of the show, with mind blowing guitar and drum solos. The band is constantly on stage embraced behind scaffolding to increase the down beat look of the production. The actors truly transport you into the world of Quadrophenia, through their passion and raw talent for the art of theatre, the stars are falling and tonight they fell on Liverpool.

Shining amongst the best of them was Ryan O’Donnell (Jimmy, the Romantic) touching the hearts of the young girls in the audience with his innocence and ringing in their ears with his powerful voice and spine-tingling vocals.

The production is pure gold, and a must-see despite not seeing the film, Quadrophenia feels as if it was made for the stage and that’s where it comes to life.

With the success of “The Boat that Rocked” in 2008 and now a new production of Quadrophenia, it’s safe to say that the Swinging Sixties are back for a second time, and this time it’s for everyone - whether you were there first time round, or long for the freedom nowadays. Get on your bike.



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