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Sunny Afternoon, Bristol Hippodrome

Published by: G.D. Mills on 8th Mar 2017 | View all blogs by G.D. Mills

Ray Davies emerges as both genius and hero of a Sunny Afternoon, a razzle-dazzle, foot-tapping musical which traces the rise of 60s band The Kinks. There is much to admire in this kaleidoscopic production: the arresting wall-to-wall set composed entirely of speakers; excellent musicianship; a galloping narrative and of course a host of classic hits which, thanks to Joe Penhall, emerge seamlessly from the drama at narratively opportune moments.

Numbers like Waterloo Sunset, You Really Got Me, Dedicated Follower of Fashion, Lola and Sunny Afternoon are themselves so full of character and story that they would be enough in themselves to sustain our attention. The wider drama, by contrast, seems a little too cliché ridden. We have the inevitable internal quarreling as well as all the familiar figures in the rock n’ roll rags to riches story: the Machiavellian money men, the sex crazed nymphets; the salt of the earth, working class parents, and so on. Not that they aren’t all entertaining, and deftly rendered, in a larger-than-life, comic sort of way. Lisa Wright is stand-out as Rasa, Ray Davies’ plaintive, stay-at-home wife, and Mark Newnham raises consistent laughter as Ray’s infantile, cross-dressing brother.

But the music. Oh yes, that music. Ray Davies has produced 14 top ten international hits: richly melodic and poetically nuanced, they are an established part of our cultural landscape. Sunny Afternoon is a very successful, paint-by-numbers musical, but the quality of that music takes it to a whole new level.

See it on tour. Visit the website here.



  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 1 year ago
    Thanks for this review. Sounds like a great musical time warp!
  • Elaine Pinkus
    by Elaine Pinkus 1 year ago
    Glad you enjoyed it. I was not wowed when I saw it at the Hampstead Theatre, London. Loved the Kinks but the musical didn't work for me but I think I am in the minority.
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