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Oct 13th, 2014
What we said about the 2014 production:
I haven't seen a jukebox musical unless you count cringing through Mamma Mia at my mother's 50th birthday party, but I don't like to think about that as a jukebox, or at all...
But I have seen Ray Davies, twice. Once live on stage, as one of the most jovial performers I've ever experienced, and then again fairly recently, actually sitting on the South Bank at sunset, in the shadow of a certain bridge. Both events reduced me to near hysterics, so you can imagine how excited I was about going to see Sunny Afternoon, the newly transferred story of The Kinks, one of Britain's most influential and badly behaved envoys of the swinging sixties.
And for once, my expectations were surpassed, because Sunny Afternoon the real deal, taking on those four mouthy lads from Muswell Hill and crafting a wonderfully fresh and funny show around them. And of course, their marvellously detailed back catalogue.
From humble beginnings to America, and back again, 'Sunny takes us on a whirlwind with the boys, as a backing band at dinner dances to Madison Square Gardens, all the way guided by the dangerous and wild Dave, and Ray's effortless talent to make a song from anything.
On the way, the songs are played onstage by the whole ensemble, who wander on and off whilst assuming characters, are segued into the story, displaying the double layering; these were not just catchy hits, but often an acerbic social commentary.
There is swinging from chandeliers, booze, and birds. Dave, the 'fun' one, the dedicated follower of fashion, gets into fights with Mick and causes a ruckus wherever he goes. His enthusiasm infectious, he stands in contrast to the reluctant vaudevillian and 'sensitive' Ray. He handles wide-eyed naivety, love, homesickness and disabling depression with the tortured pain of an ignored genius, and you don't even want to punch him - because it's all turned around by a wink and a quick step.
For a band famous for the bristling chemistry of its fraternal leads, the sibling rivalry is not touched too deeply upon, but there is a suggestion as they face money worries and chart ignominy. But then it's all World Cup optimism, snarky lines about The Beatles and ragtime dancing in Chelsea boots for a riotous finale.
All in all, I did find this irresistible, I loved the design and the costumes that set the scene of an era I've always idolised, with a band I've always idolised. As a fan, I recognise that they wouldn't have to do much to win my favour. However, my companion knew very little going in, but by the end, we were both singing along to Lola with undisguised glee.
View our show pages for more information about Sunny Afternoon, Theatre Royal Brighton.
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