December 5, 2020

1979-02-11 – The Observer

1979 02 11 The_Observer_Sun__Feb_11__1979_

story but something for the
sensihilities. (Mr Townshend
is not, as you might think.
proudly 1nd1fferent to rhyme;
when he can think up a
" sorrow-tomorrow ’ coupler,
however lame, he shoves' it
in.) .
‘I'It .is not altogether the
authors’ fault; ‘Tommy,’
after all, wasn’t wyitten for .
the stage. To put 1t there is '
brutally (the right word)
to expose its masochistic
narcissism: here is the hero
as deaf, dpmb and blind boy,
here he 15 as teenage idol,
and here finally as crucified
Star. Filling in the visual
details can’t be easy; apart
from some spectacular laser-
work, this production settles
for third—hand eroticism. If a
couple of nurses have to :
appear they naturally flash_

i their suspenders. . .

The staging of Tommy, . To show you how ongmal
(Queen’s) reopens some ues- It. plans to behthe show be-
tions WhiCh one might ave gms by hanng z-ts_ cagst
thought buried. It is boldly clamber down scaffolding m
billed as ‘arock musical ’ and their leotards while clouds
is one of the few of its kind flpat across the back-projecé
to deserve the name. Hence ted sky. Things that on the :
of course its failure; rock record were just meretrici-'
cannot co-exist with drama, ously menacing are here
since the first depends on clumsily nasty; his relatwes’
repetition and the second on sexual assaults 011 Tommy ;
variety. Whenever a sup- are played for laughs. (Bob ;
posed rock-score has been. Grant makes Uncle Ernie a. '

raised in .the theatre it has perverted Bruce Forsyth.)

een for Its ‘eclecticism ’: Allan Love mimes quite
i-e., it has got away from rock touchingly in the opening
as far and often as possible. scenes; but when his facul-
(1'1153 has ofteq been the C858 ties are restored'he has to
Wlth P0P musm DutSIde the grab - a hand-mike just like '
theatre 35 WEHJ ’ everybody else. Chargcter
But ‘Tommy’ i5 sanctified conflict in those constrlcted

as The Who’s masterwork, a circumstances is hardly 1305‘ ‘
'hit on records and filmed by 1611318. Llsten, P801218, HObOdY .
iKen Russell (they deserved 1n Amenca writes rock
each other), so we getiit now scores for the theatre any

with its rhythms crushingly more, and they _know far ,
unvaried, its decibels ringing more about musxcals than -
and Pete Townshend’s atroci- you. J
ous lyrics generally inaudible

——which does nothing for the