Touring - reviewed at New Victoria Theatre, Woking
Guitars, girls and great music make up this fascinating and beautifully told story of the rise of The Kinks. Sunny Afternoon is now touring following an extended, Olivier Award-winning West End season.
X Factor hopefuls should take note and come and watch this intriguing show that not only charts the rise of The Kinks but also offers an insight into the brutal music industry that they are all trying to break into.
Edward Hall’s sharp and brilliantly focused production has just closed in the West End, having won several Olivier Awards including Best New Musical and has that feel of a classic British musical that is infectious and completely engrosses your attention from the very beginning.
The audience gets to witness the youthful and working class band as they embark on a rise to stardom and the potential pitfalls that threaten to tear them apart, helped along by a fantastic soundtrack – which even if you aren’t familiar with their work is easy to appreciate and enjoy.
Everything about the production just seems to work perfectly to create an electrifying and powerful performance that is unforgettable. From Miriam Buether’s fantastically retro set that really evokes the 60’s era, to the pulsating soundtrack which includes renditions of ‘ Waterloo Sunset’, ‘Sunny Afternoon’ and of course their most memorable hit ‘You really Got Me”, it is fabulously entertaining as the band banter among themselves and creating music. But as the band get swept into the music industry, underlying tensions begin to emerge and actually results in a punch up in one memorable scene.
Yet as focused on the band’s career as it is, the show (based on an original story by Ray Davies) feels as though it skips over some elements of their story for whatever reason. For example where did the underlying tension come from – was it purely the pressure they were under or was there something else to it?
But there is no faulting the performances which have plenty of energy, passion and dedication that really brings the band to life. Ryan O’Donnell makes a quiet and reflective Ray Davies, whose constant pressure to write a hit song is captured in a scene involving one of his managers and a typewriter – being made to write on the spur of the moment. Meanwhile, Mark Newnham is a suitably rebellious Dave Davies, whose resentment becomes increasingly apparent in his attitude towards the other band members. Garmon Rhys as the slightly insecure Pete Quaife and Andrew Gallo as Mick Avory perfectly complement the brothers to create a great dynamic between them all.
Fascinating, insightful, rebellious and cool, Sunny Afternoon is a fantastic British musical that is going to be sadly missed in the West End but will delight audiences across the UK for some time to come.
Sunny Afternoon continues to play at the New Victoria Theatre until 5th November, before continuing to tour. To book tickets visit ATG tickets.