This is a traditional staging of The Who’s rock opera, first performed in 1973. The tale centres on Jimmy, a young schizophrenic who latches desperately onto contemporary mod culture for a sense of identity and belonging. Jimmy has a wild few days in Brighton, filled with drugs, fights, flirting and disappointment as he finds his fellow mods are faking it. The trip and the pressures of social conformity have sent Jimmy into a psychotic episode and he is committed to a mental institution. The show switches between Jimmy’s sessions with his deep voiced psychiatrist and memories of Brighton and the aftermath.
Big fans of The Who’s music will be well sated, although those with a finely tuned ear might be offended by some of the singing.
The show is well produced and the actors all look good. The suits are sharp, the flared dresses appropriately short and the 60s-style dancing is unconsciously authentic. The choreography is impressive too; I particularly liked the scenes of the mods, cruising on their bikes down to Brighton. Big fans of The Who’s music will be well sated, although those with a finely tuned ear might be offended by some of the singing. Still, only one song was truly similar to groaning and I really enjoyed the rendition of ‘Bell Boy’.
The performances were generally spirited and all the characters delivered their lines well and audibly. Jimmy held his own as the leading man, and switched pretty seamlessly between manic mod and dazed psychiatric inmate, but some of the other performers seemed to forget about acting in favour of shouting their way to believability.
The show isn’t particularly ambitious in terms of investigating Jimmy’s personality disorder and doesn’t attempt to copy the original in giving Jimmy four personalities (mirroring the band members of The Who) but trying to investigate his psychological issues any deeper would probably have ruined what was ultimately a light musical drama.