by Joe Penhall music and Lyrics by Ray Davies.
Hampstead Theatre Eton Avenue Swiss Cottage NW3 3EU To 24 May 2014.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed mat 2.30pm, Sat 3pm (sold out).
Runs: 2hr 45min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7722 9301.
Review: Carole Woddis 2 May.
Exciting production recreates exciting times.
You might think we need another back-catalogue musical like a hole in the head.
But up pops Edward Hall to show that there will always be room and appetite for a home-grown original that in this case has ‘transfer’ stamped all over it.
Built around the much loved ‘60s working class British rock group, The Kinks, on the surface this falls neatly into the jukebox-musical genre based on the recycled hits of past bands that have been ten a penny over the past few decades – Queen, Abba, the Jersey Boys, The Beatles, to name but a few of the those featured.
Sunny Afternoon though strikes me as bearing more similarities to Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers, blessed with a strong storyline by playwright Joe Penhall (Blue/Orange, Some Voices) and taken from Ray Davies’ own biographies.
Penhall has crafted them into an affecting account of young talent ripped off by commercial forces that stops around 1966 in the euphoria of the World Cup win, when external and internal forces turned the talent once and for all into something else.
Their story isn’t a particularly new one. Nor the conventional terms in which Ed Hall rolls out the Kinks’ songs. But put together with the wonderfully intimate yet spectacular reconfiguration he’s affected with the Hampstead auditorium, dominated by Miriam Buether’s vintage amplifiers set and a performing stage that cuts through the audience, the show’s momentum is unstoppable.
A trip down memory lane maybe, the songs – ‘You Really Got Me’, ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’, ‘Sunny Afternoon’ and unforgettably, ‘Waterloo Road’ – are sung here by an outstanding quartet of George Maguire (as Dave Davies), Ned Derrington (Pete), Adam Sopp (Mick) and led by the thin as a rake John Dagleish (a dead ringer for Ray Davies), a bundle of vulnerability and musical passion yet commanding.
True the girls are mostly there to provide eye-candy – wasn’t that the way back in the ‘60s? – but Hall’s galvanising ensemble make Sunny Afternoon movingly as much about Englishness and lost innocence as it is about Davies’ musical genius and hard rock’s sheer energising force. Certainly got me going.
Sister/Company: Carly Anderson.
Mr Davies/Allen Klein/Company: Philip Bird.
Eddie Kassner/Company: Ben Caplan.
Ray: John Dagleish.
Pete: Ned Derrington.
Rasa/Company: Lillie Flynn.
Sister/Company/Dance Captain: Emily Goodenough.
Mrs Davies/Machat/Company: Helen Hobson.
Larry Page/Company: Vince Leigh.
Dave: George Maguire.
Sister/Company: Amy Ross.
Mick: Adam Sopp.
Gregory Piven/Company: Marvin Springer.
Robert Wace/Company: Dominic Tighe.
Grenville Collins/Company: Tam Williams.
Guitarist: Pete Friesen.
Director: Edward Hall.
Designer: Miriam Buether.
Lighting: Rick Fisher.
Sound: Matt McKenzie.
Musical Supervisor/Director: Elliott Ware.
Choreographer: Adam Cooper.
Associate director: Mel Hillyard.
Sunny Afternoon was first presented at Hampstead Theatre, London, on 14 April 2014.