SUNSHINE ON LEITH
by Stephen Greenhorn music by The Proclaimers.
Royal & Derngate (Derngate auditorium) To 13 November
7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm.
Audio-described 11 Nov. 10
TICKETS: 01604 624811.
then Theatre Royal Windsor 6-20 November 2010.
Tue-Thu; Sat 8pm Fri 5pm &8.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm.
TICKETS: 01753 853888.
Runs 2hr 45min One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 10 November.
Triumph over tribulations for Hibs and hearts.
It’s been touring some time, the programme’s grown bigger and glossier and the show now features an actor famous for being in a film. Which isn’t really the point for a piece where the limelight’s shared by three couples. But Sunshine on Leith retains two redoubtable members of Dundee Rep Theatre’s ensemble in John Buick and Ann Louise Ross to remind of its origins at one of Scotland’s most exciting and high-achieving theatres (the excellent Buick was indisposed at the start of the Northampton week, with George Drennan’s tall figure making an admirable variation in impact as Rab).
Success is assured not so much by the story, which despite a brief opening among the British army in a Middle East conflict zone, and scattered references early on to Rab’s past as dockworker and socialist, is basically a soggy, sobby, soapy love story, full of heartstring-tugging anxieties and lovers’ quarrels.
There’s a fine double-act of these in the climactic first-act finale of Stephen Greenhorn’s script. It starts as a celebration and ends in a fight, with one marriage on the rocks and another failing to get off the ground. Greenhorn’s prepared us for the first, but has to shore-up the second with post-interval explanation.
Generally, as he takes his two sets of young lovers and older Jean and Rab around Leith (with occasional look-ins for Edinburgh next door) and its ever-changing streets, pubs and the hospital where Yvonne works and Rab is a temporary patient, Greenhorn has the right balance of factitious emotions and pleasant humour for a story which underscores the real reason for the show’s success: the music of Edinburgh’s Reid twins, aka The Proclaimers.
Song after song starts ordinary enough then takes melodic flight, the short pungent phrases of some matched by elaborated melodic phrases developing later in the tunes of others. Energetic, even when soulful, the songs gain from their new context within this finely-acted, energetic show. With Dundee Artistic Director James Brining aided by spirited sequences from choreographer Lizzi Gee, and Neil Warmington’s designs creating interiors and open spaces, Sunshine on Leith can brighten any stage.
Davy: Billy Boyd.
Rab: John Buick.
Liz: Jo Freer.
Ally: Michael Moreland.
Yvonne: Zoe Rainey.
Jean: Ann Louise Ross.
Karen: Moyo Akande.
Margaret: Samantha Blaney.
Eddie: George Drennan.
Innes: Gavin Kean.
Young Rab: James Mackenzie.
Moira: Kirsty Malone.
Jimmy: Darragh O’Leary.
Young Jean: Ellie Robertson.
Hazel: Anne Smith.
Director: James Brining.
Designer: Neil Warmington.
Lighting: Oliver Fenwick.
Sound: Tommy Gorman.
Arranger/Musical Director: Hilary Brooks.
Choreographer: Lizzi Gee.
Vocal coach: Lorna Brooks.
Dance Captain: Darragh O’Leary.
Fight arranger: Raymond Short.
Assistant director: Emma Faulkner.