Sunny Afternoon (Harold Pinter Theatre, 26th August 2015)
It's immediately clear why Sunny Afternoon took home the Olivier Award for Best New Musical, with its two lead characters winning Best Actor in a Musical and Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical - but I know I'm incredibly biased due to my adoration for The Kinks' music. Despite my bias, the show is undeniably stylish and has a quirky humour to it, not overdoing the rock'n'roll swagger you'd expect to come hand-in-hand with songs like You Really Got Me. Personally, musicals based on bands usually fall on the cringey side of 'fun' for me - Our House comes to mind, with its storyline created to fill in the cracks between each knees-up song. Sunny Afternoon however avoids this path, instead charting The Kinks' rise (and falls) to success, retaining the Davies' brothers determined working-class feel. It has more than a touch of rockstar appeal, with Dave Davies swinging from a chandelier in a nightie, and the infamous fracas onstage in Cardiff. For an avid fan of live music, the 15 live musicians are the main enjoyment - it has the thrill of a talented gig, and a lovely section with a gorgeous five-part harmony. The show is lengthy, which personally I was greatful for, as I could have happily danced for another few songs in the encore.
If any criticisms are to be made, they would be that the show could have delved deeper into the relationships within the band, and contextually carried more weight of the 1960's London that The Kink's were intrinsically linked with, as mentioned in Lyn Gardner's review for The Guardian. Despite this, I felt the show crammed in enough charm and biographical personal detail to counteract any lack of wider context - this is greatly aided by the autobiographical nature of Ray Davies' lyrics. I will hopefully be returning soon to the show, to see Joe Dagleish as Ray Davies. Although his understudy was fantastic, and I can hardly complain as I bought a last minute £15 ticket for a mid-week matinee performance, I would love to see Dagliesh in the role. Overall, Sunny Afternoon is worth returning for - I just wish I'd been able to see The Kinks the first time round.