Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Review: Sunny Afternoon at the Harold Pinter Theatre



Sunny Afternoon
Harold Pinter Theatre
Reviewed on Saturday 25th October 2014
★★★★

Sunny Afternoon has hit the West End with a breath of fresh air. 

Following the rise of The Kinks with particular interest to Ray Davies' life story, Sunny Afternoon is loud, funny and utterly charming. The show premiered at the Hampstead Theatre earlier this year and is clearly ready for West End audiences; it's so nice to see a new musical open in the theatre capital of the world which isn't in need of a major revamp!

Although I was only previously aware of a couple of The Kinks' biggest hits, I found myself in absolute awe of the entire score. The music has this therapeutic quality; I'm struggling to put my finger on why I found it so blissful. The cast’s rendition of the title song provides a beautiful moment, with the other stand out number being 'Waterloo Sunset' during which I thought I had died and gone to heaven. 

Miriam Buether's design is beautifully simple. I love the catwalk which comes out into the auditorium; there are several cabaret-style tables scattered around the stalls which is also a lovely touch. The intimacy of the Harold Pinter Theatre works a treat for Edward Hall's production, it feels far more special in a smaller theatre (and the loud music sounds even louder - my ears were ringing afterwards!). 

I found myself intrigued by a story which I didn't think would interest me. Sunny Afternoon may not be a ground-breaking piece of theatre, but it is more than just a party musical. As long as you are prepared to take the show for what it is, and secretly love a bit of Rock ‘n’ Roll music, you will have an unforgettable evening.

The entire cast of actor/musicians are extraordinarily talented. They bring the piece alive, I found their energy infectious. The stars of the show are John Dagleish and George Maguire who portray Ray and Dave Davies - roles they were born to play. A mention must also go to Lillie Flynn who is sensational as Ray's partner, Rasa.

Jukebox musicals have become very stereotyped over the past few years, with many labelling them tacky shows which shoehorn a bunch of well-known songs around a loose storyline (this is far from my personal opinion). However, I think Sunny Afternoon will restore many people's faith in the jukebox musical concept. 

We have seen such a variety of musicals transfer to the West End this year, and Sunny Afternoon couldn't be more deserving of a long West End run.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Sunny Afternoon is booking at the Harold Pinter Theatre until 23rd May 2015. 
Visit www.sunnyafternoonthemusical.com for info and tickets.

Photo Credit: Kevin Cummins

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