Quadrophenia: “Ain’t it funny how we all seem to look the same?”

Quadrophenia: “Ain’t it funny how we all seem to look the same?”

Emerging from the shadows of The Dolphin pub in Plymouth’s Barbican, we began walking toward the stunningly perfect natural harbor, the open sea a short boat ride to the south.

Suddenly steady, mounting, weirdly mechanized buzzing could be heard just around the corner.

Were we being pursued by lawnmowers?

Soon the street was filled with flashy vintage motor scooters, piloted mostly by older men wearing strange archaic clothing, and suddenly I experienced a devastating flashback from somewhere deep within my Indiana heartland soul.

But why?

How could someone landlocked and corn-fed like me, born and raised thousands of miles away from Plymouth—who didn’t visit England until he was 38 years old (and made a beeline for Brighton)—possibly experience 1960s-back-dated déjà vu on a Devon quayside during the Obama administration?

Elementary, my dear Jimmy: It’s Quadrophenia, that’s how.

When the whirring subsided and the scooters disappeared around the bend, my wife’s cousin explained that The Who’s seminal 1973 album had been adapted for restaging as a musical by its writer, Pete Townshend. The show would be playing at the Theatre Royal Plymouth, and so we bought tickets and attended a performance.

It was cleverly done, with a group of young vocalists and instrumentalists gleefully blasting their letter-perfect way through...Read more