I have to confess that I thought I knew very little about The Kinks before the show or should I say their songs – how wrong could I be? I knew every single song and, my goodness, how this excellent cast rose to the challenge of portraying both the atmosphere and personalities of this iconic British band.
The show begins with the stage stacked sky high with speakers, and when the riff to ‘You Really Got Me’ starts, the musical really takes off. The ‘dirty’ sound is achieved when Dave cuts the speakers with a razor blade, thus developing The Kinks’ sound. Prior to this they had linked two amps together turned to the maximum volume of 10. The sound is blistering and vibrates through the body and soul of everyone in the theatre.
John Dagleish is a truly worthy Ray and manages to convey both the struggle and vulnerability that this genius musician had at that time. George Maguire as Dave Davies brings out the colourfulness of his character and his very obvious love of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.
The set design (Miriam Buether) with its catwalk and tables for the audience really makes you feel involved and the cast use it well. The choreography (Adam Cooper) is perfect, and again makes you feel part of the swinging 60s. The show has many humorous moments, and there are some really great one-liners.
In the second act, which is set in the USA, the band start feeling isolated on such a large tour. Ray feels homesick for his new wife Rasa (Lillie Flynn) and child back in England, and there is a beautifully crafted telephone call between them. You can’t help feeling their angst as it’s so well-acted and well-sung by both. Their refusal to play the game in America prevents them from achieving greater things at the time and begins the unravelling of the band. The manipulation by the management gives you a good feel of how young and naive they are at the start. They become very astute and you can see them growing in front of your eyes.
The a cappella version of ‘Days’ is a brilliant addition, and other highlights include ‘Dead End Street’ and ‘Waterloo Sunset’. The show’s title song ‘Sunny Afternoon’ was released in June 1966, with England winning the World Cup in July of that year. This brings a really happy element to this part of the show, which up until then has shown the band’s unhappy times.
The finale had all four tiers of the theatre standing and dancing to the iconic anthems of The Kinks.
As a new fan of The Kinks I would have liked a song list in the programme to refer to, and my husband – a long-standing Kinks fan – thought the song Victoria would have worked really well within the show. The one thing we both agreed upon was that this is a show not to be missed, and is a cacophony of emotions. I dare anyone not to leave with a smile on their face!
Review by Caroline Hanks-Farmer
The Kinks exploded onto the 60s music scene with a raw, energetic new sound that rocked a nation. But how did that happen, where exactly did they come from and what happened next?
With Music and Lyrics by Ray Davies, a new Book by Joe Penhall and Direction by Edward Hall, SUNNY AFTERNOON depicts the rise to stardom of The Kinks. Set against the back-drop of a Britain caught mid-swing between the conservative 50s and riotous 60s, this production explores the euphoric highs and agonising lows of one of Britain’s most iconic bands and the irresistible music that influenced generations
John Dagleish as Ray Davies
George Maguire as Dave Davies
Adam Sopp as Mick Avory
Ned Derrington as Pete Quaife
Carly Anderson as Gwen/Company
Elizabeth Hill as Mrs Davies/Marsha/Company
Philip Bird as Mr Davies/Allen Klein/Company
Ben Caplan as Eddie Kassner/Company
Ashley Campbell as Gregory Piven
Lillie Flynn as Rasa/Company
Emily Goodenough as Peggy/Company/Dance Captain
Vince Leigh as Larry Page/Company
Amy Ross as Joyce/Company
Dominic Tighe as Robert Wace/Company
Tam Williams as Grenville Collins/Company
Luke Baker Understudy (Ray)
Robbie Durham Understudy
Stephen Pallister Understudy
Kirsty Mather Understudy
Verity Quade Understudy
Nick Sayce Understudy
Ray Davies: Music & Lyrics
Joe Penhall: Writer
Ray Davies: Original Story
Edward Hall: Director
Miriam Buether: Designer
Adam Cooper: Choreographer
Rick Fisher: Lighting
Matt McKenzie: Sound
Elliott Ware: Musical Supervisor & Musical Director
Harold Pinter Theatre
6 Panton Street, London, SW1Y 4DN
Show Opened: 4th October 2014
Currently Booking Until: 23rd May 2015
Evenings: Monday to Saturday 7.30pm
Matinees: Wednesday and Saturday 7.30pm