A Musical Biography of The Kinks:
I’m a little unsure when it comes to musicals. When done well with good music which complements the story, I’m a fan. When they feel contrived and the cast burst into some awful song about something as mundane as crossing the road, I’m most definitely not. I must admit that the first 10 minutes of Sunny Afternoon felt as if it was going to fall into the latter category, with a slapstick dance scene played out to a lesser known Kinks song. But don’t be put off. As soon as the 4 main characters come into their own and the story starts to unwind, I was totally transfixed.
Written in collaboration with Ray Davies, this is a biographical look at the early years of the Kinks. It is the story of 2 brothers (Ray and Dave Davies) and how 4 friends formed a band and found fame in the middle of the swinging sixties. But rather than being no more than a showcase for the Kinks’ music, this is also an in-depth piece of theatre which documents the highs and significant lows the band faced during their founding years. Actor John Dagleish does an astounding job portraying a troubled Ray Davies, who at a very young age finds himself Chief Kink and leader of a highly talented but self destructive band, whilst also coming to terms with being a husband and young father. He plays out the depressive illness Ray battles in a sensitive and understated manner, whilst at the same time leaving no doubt to the demons he is facing. In contrast, George Maguire brings the comedy element to the show, with “Dave the Rave” Davies embracing everything fame brings his way and in a perfect parody of the times, at one point finds himself swinging from a chandelier in a pink evening dress!
The music is ever present and with the venue being such an intimate one, you almost feel as if you are at a gig rather than a West End production. My highlight was the band playing Sunny Afternoon as England win the world cup and red, white and blue ticker tape rains down over the audience. Although I wasn’t around in the 60’s, I got the distinct feeling that there was never a better time to have been alive and living in Britain. My husband’s highlight was a little more sombre, as the band part company with their original managers and sing an acapella version of Thank You For The Days.
This is a very relaxed production, with a small cast who all seem able to do a bit of everything. The theatre compliments this with its cabaret layout and a catwalk which runs into the audience, making it sometimes unclear where the audience end and cast begin! Whether you were around in the 60’s or not and whether you have heard of the Kinks or not, I defy anyone not to be on their feet and dancing by the end of the night (I certainly was!)
Sunny Afternoon is currently playing at the Harold Pinter theatre and booking until 16 April 2016. For more information and to book tickets visit www.sunnyafternoonthemusical.com or call 0844 871 7622.