Sunny Afternoon

Sunny Afternoon

9 December 2015 (Wed), West End

This was a jukebox musical built around the music of The Kinks, but it was all effectively new for me since I don’t really know the group. The songs are sung in many cases as character material, which worked to an extent. The story was a bit by the numbers and not overly compelling, but it moved along smoothly enough. Some characters could have been compressed since the personalities were not always so unique; for one thing, I couldn’t tell the two managers apart. It was all very British in content, including inevitable class references and big hoopla over the 1966 World Cup (the UK won, apparently, though I’m not sure what that had to do with Kinks). The dialogue was rather clichéd and included numerous lame in-jokes (“John and Yoko wouldn’t lie around all day like this”, “That’ll happen when Britain wins the World Cup” and such). The scenes in America were exaggerated in a fun way – the British must eat this stuff up.

The songs were tuneful and fun; I can see why they’d want to build a musical around them, though I really think they should consider using them all as concert numbers. The staging was interesting. A hanamichi-like runway comes out to the audience (right in front of me, actually – I had to be careful about stretching my legs) with steps to each side used for entrances and exits, bringing characters up close. The actors came through the audience from several directions. Adam Cooper’s choreography was energetic, nicely constructed for that limited space. I was wondering throughout how they would fit the group’s most famous song “Lola” into that story; it came at the end in concert style as a kind of encore. The main actor, apparently an understudy, was fine, but the best on stage was his brother in a dynamic and extremely natural performance. He rose above some dreadful material. The others were fine if interchangeable. This was hardly the earth-shattering show that UK critics had rated it, but it was an amusing night out.

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