Review: Sunshine On Leith - Joyous love letter to Leith is home

ROUSING anthems, layered story-telling and an uplifting finale, guarantees a fun night at The King's this week.* * * * * KING'S THEATRE, Leven Street

Wednesday, 23rd May 2018, 5:11 pm
Updated Wednesday, 23rd May 2018, 5:16 pm
Jocasta Almgill, Steven Miller, Paul-James Corrigan and Neshla Caplan in Sunshine On Leith

The West Yorkshire Playhouse production of Stephen Greenhorn’s homage to Leith, as told through the songs of The Proclaimers, is a joyous if overly-busy universal tale of family and friendship, love and loss.

Ally and Davy are just back from a tour of Afghanistan. Romance awaits, enter Liz and Yvonne. Meanwhile, Jean and Rab are looking forward to celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary.

It’s soon clear no one is guaranteed a happy ending.

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From the slow build of Sky Takes The Soul at the top of Act One, these dramas are played out against a soundtrack of songs by the Reid twins, each a finely crafted story in its own right made all the more poignant by David Shrubsole’s soaring arrangements and intricate harmonies.

At the heart of the piece, Steven Miller is deftly natural as love-struck Davy, while Paul-James Corrigan conjures up the quintessential ‘wee gadgie’, all bravado and insecurity. Together they drive the action with a shared charisma that is infectious.

Jocasta Almgill and Neshla Caplan are strong too as Yvonne and Liz, but it is Hilary Maclean’s beautifully honed Jean that steals the show - a fitting homecoming for the Edinburgh actress.

Her experience shines through during a blisteringly emotional rendition of Hate My Love For You and it doesn’t stop there, Maclean has all the best songs, including the show-stopping title track.

Other highlights include a hilariously Hibstastic rendition of Let’s Get Married, which allows the excellent Euan Bennet his moment in the spotlight.

If Emily-Jane Boyle’s choreography is always inventive it also has its more bizarre moments, some ‘Strictly’ inspired moves prove a step too far for the abilities on stage.

If there is a downside, it’s director James Brining’s need for constant movement from the 20 plus ensemble, which dictates pivotal moments are often obscured, the principals upstaged.

Colin Richmond’s authentic but bulky set doesn’t help and makes scene changes chaotic and a nightmare to execute.

As I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) heralds the final curtain, it makes for a buoyant finale that, nonetheless, has the audience happily singing and clapping along.

Run ends Saturday