Sunny Afternoon will cheer up even the most miserable of London evenings. Just don’t go in with a headache or the guitars – the loudest I have heard in musical theatre thus far – will only make it worse.
Written by Ray Davies himself, the show follows the story of The Kinks (Ray and Dave Davies, Pete Quaife and Mick Avory from their early days together in Muswell Hill, as they hit the big time, get kicked out of America and find their feet again. It’s an organic, natural story and although it flounders a little in the second act, it generally moves along well and cleverly incorporates the hits.
Because the songs are of course the backbone of the show. The cast and band (especially John Dagleish as Ray) are magnificent, giving the audience an experience surely not far off the real Kinks.
Dagleish’s early interjections with odd riffs and verses, especially with A Well Respected Man, work excellently within the story and keep the music integral while moving the plot along.
I Go To Sleep and Sitting In My Hotel back to back provide a rare tender moment and bring across the love between Ray and Rasa (Lillie Flynn) in a turbulent time. Unusually for a musical, taking the time to explore these emotions doesn’t drag it to a halt or feel like a filler piece.
For me, the big numbers were Waterloo Sunset, with cadences and vocals that may bring a tear to your eye, and Sunny Afternoon, but there isn’t really a duff musical moment in this show.
Finally, the show finishes as a typical jukebox musical with a blast through some of the hits as an encore – namely All Day And All Of The Night, You Really Got Me and Lola.
Last year, I saw two West End shows twice each – Once and Jersey Boys – and I would happily add Sunny Afternoon to the ‘see twice’ roster.