Sunshine on Leith by Sedos
Sunshine on Leith is a musical which focus on home, family and what these mean, all set to the music of the Proclaimers. We meet Dave and Ally who have returned home to Leith, after serving in the army. Ally is returning home to his girlfriend Liz and Dave to his family but as the show goes on some relationships break down as new ones are forged.
The show itself is pleasant enough with some shrewd political observations and songs that for the most (and unusually for a jukebox musical) served the story well and didn’t feel shoehorned in. Despite the music all being by the same artist the music was also varied enough in style, from upbeat fun numbers such as ‘I’m On My Way,’ to heart wrenching numbers such as ‘Hate My Love.’
The cast all got their own moments to shine thanks to numerous cameo roles. The standouts for me were Ruth Granton as Liz and Elish Mulvihill as Yvonne. Both of these women were incredibly natural in their roles and quickly got the audience on side. The tone for the show was very well struck by the cast generally and the performance of Gerard Toner-Martin as Rab, Davy and Liz’s dad was a prime example of this. His acting for this role was spot on.
One of the standout strengths of the show was the intricate and beautiful harmonies that the cast delivered under the direction of MD Oscar Deniham. This was particularly true of the male leads Joe McWilliam as Davy and Adam Richardson as Ally.
Whilst I adored the fact that each of the cast got their moment in the spotlight at times in the group numbers there were members of the ensemble who struggled with the choreography, and whilst some parts got away with it due to the setting of the numbers this wasn’t the case for the more stylised dance styles. The more stylised moments of choreography by Catherine Higgins were great in theory and when performed by those who could deliver it it really elevated these numbers and created an additional layer of storytelling.
There were also some moments in the show that could have been thought through more carefully, in particular Davey’s outburst at Jean and Rab’s engagement party and consequently Yvonne’s reaction. Yvonne’s reaction seemed very over dramatic in a blink and could miss it moment for Davey. However in contrast Jean’s letter reading in the lead up to the act 1 finale was staged beautifully, really building up the dramatic tension. I also want to commend the fact that director Sorrel Brown had worked hard to weave in some queer love stories throughout the background of the show, adding another layer into a show about community.
The show also suffered from pacing issues, there were numerous lengthy blackouts for scene changes but with clever lighting or more thoughtful staging these could have been avoided with the action continuing elsewhere on stage. Some of the staging was also difficult to see some of the performers, especially when they were on the back platform where they became masked in part by the set in front of it.
Sedos have really succeeded in getting across the theme of community in Sunshine on Leith, with rich harmonies and strong performances, this is a great chance to see this underperformed show.
Sunshine on Leith is on until the 20th May at The Bridewell. To find out more visit their website.