We sent Matthew Jameson to check out The Who’s ‘Tommy’ at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.
‘That deaf dumb blind kid sure plays a mean pin ball!’ And he really does in the extraordinary production of The Who’s classic rock musical. Ramps on the Moon’s production of Tommy is completely reimagined, co-directed by Peter Rowe and Jenny Sealey combining equal numbers of D/deaf, disabled and none-disabled performers and creative team too. Every performance is accessible to the blind, visually impaired and D/deaf with embedded audio description, British Sign Language and creative captioning throughout. I did not know what to expect at all with this production, as not having seem the musical before and actually not knowing the project run by Ramps on the Moon. I was totally blown away by this unbelievably slick, electrifying spectacle, truly showing that anyone who wants to perform on stage in a rock musical can!
We see Tommy (William Grint) witness something horrific which then sends him insular, already D/deaf he refuses to then speak or communicate with anyone. His mother Nora (Donna Mullins/Shekinah McFarlane) and step Father Frank (Alim Jayda) try everything to try and bring him back from the brink before it’s too late. All the performers are fantastic and add a completely new twist on how you would imagine the brilliant songs by The Who performed. Max Runham as Tommy’s Father Captain Walker, tears your heart out with emotion and passion alongside William Grint who is phenomenal. Shekinah McFarlane as Nora’s voice is amazing and works in perfect unison with Donna Mullins portraying the anguish and despair which consumes her. The show however is stolen by Peter Straker as the infamous Acid Queen with an unbelievable voice, but be warned, be afraid, be very afraid. If you are going to only see one musical in your life, this is it, undeniably unique and amazing!
Get your tickets here: www.wyp.org.uk/events/tommy/