Blogger Review: Box Office favourite Olivia Bolas has a Sunny Afternoon in London
Despite releasing their first hit single in 1964, some 30-something years before I was born, I grew up being very familiar with The Kinks’ music so I was excited when I was invited along to see Sunny Afternoon, a musical based on the life and works of The Kinks, at the Harold Pinter theatre. The show was actually created by the frontman of the band, Ray Davies, and tells the story of the band from signing their first record deal, playing hit shows, touring America and all of the turbulence in-between. The music was definitely a highlight of the show for me. All of the actors played their instruments live which was very impressive and at times I felt like I was at a real Kinks concert: it was loud, it was lively and had the people around me tapping their feet and itching to dance. However these concert-style scenes contrasted with some quiet, understated moments with real emotion that just gave the show a big heart as well as a big voice.
‘You really got me’ and ‘All day and all of the night’ had the real authentic Kinks sound when performed, but songs such as ‘This time tomorrow’ and ‘A long way from home’ were done in a beautiful acoustic style where you could really feel the emotion that spurred the writing of the songs. The performance of ‘Waterloo Sunset’ at the climax of the show was truly lovely and I couldn’t help but smile. I saw mainly understudies in the lead roles but their talent to play the music live as well as portraying a character at the same time really was remarkable and I felt like I knew the members of the band by the end of the show.
What worked particularly well was the layout of the theatre, with the stage jutting out into the centre of the audience as well as four sets of stairs up onto the stage. This meant that actors were constantly passing through the auditorium and coming right to the edge of the stage, very close to the audience, making it a very interactive and immersive experience. After the bows the cast returned to the stage to perform a medley of their best songs, including ‘Lola’, and encouraged the audience to dance- not that they needed much encouraging! Everyone was up on their feet, clapping and dancing along which was a really great way to end the show.
Overall it was a show that was so full of life from start to finish, I really did enjoy it and I was pleasantly surprised by how many of The Kinks’ songs I actually knew. Whether you were around when the band were in their prime or not, I would encourage you to see this show for an evening of exhilarating music and characters to remember.