Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Review: The Who's Tommy at the Greenwich Theatre

The Who's Tommy
Greenwich Theatre
Reviewed on Friday 31st July 2015

Adapted from The Who's 1969 rock opera double-album, this was my first time seeing Tommy which many know as the 1975 film directed by Ken Russell. The title character is "traumatized into catatonia" after witnessing his father murdering his mother's partner and embarks on a journey to rediscover his spirit. 

Perhaps I'm heartless, but I found the piece incredibly tiresome and overly in-your-face. I enjoyed the final fifteen minutes which feature some of the best tunes; the final conclusion is powerful, but I found the rest of the show bewildering and lacking in heart.

Ashley Birchall holds his own as Tommy, he's clearly a talented performer who grows with the piece and comes into his own for the finale. Carly Burns makes quite an impression as the Acid Queen; her presence is striking and her performance is fearless, although some notes felt uncomfortably low in her register whilst her top belt was screechy. 

The overall volume was too loud (I genuinely watched one audience member putting tissue in their ears) and it felt like everyone was fighting for the spotlight.

There's a stand out performance from John Barr and the ensemble give their all and cannot be faulted for their dedication or energy.

At first I enjoyed Mark Smith's choreography, but it became too much - I felt hugely overwhelmed and bombarded. Nik Corral's design is flimsy; the piece had an amateurish vibe and I found some moments awkward to sit through.

For me, something about Michael Strassen's production didn't quite click and I can't decide whether it was the production or if I simply don't like the show - I would be intrigued to see other productions. Overall the piece was received well with many jumping to their feet and screaming their lungs out so maybe I'm living on another planet and missed the point entirely. 

Usually I pride myself on taking a piece of theatre for what it is, but with Tommy I failed to see the point. Repetitive and tedious with few flashes of hope, unfortunately this production wasn't my cup of tea.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

The Who's Tommy runs at the Greenwich Theatre until Sunday 23rd August 2015.
Please visit www.greenwichtheatre.org.uk for further information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Claire Bilyard

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