Sunshine on Leith Review
Dundee Rep Theatre's ‘Sunshine of Leith' would win over the hearts of most theatre-goers in a story about the lives and loves of two soldiers returning to home territory after being in Afghanistan and the affect that has on family and friends.
The storyline created by Stephen Greenhorn is well worked with three plots running alongside each other throughout. Using already written and in some cases very well known song from one source is potentially difficult and the Proclaimers music has a raw and sometimes harsh sound that is closer to Holyrood rather than the saccharine sounds of a musicals that makes it to the Hollywood screen.
There are a number of scenes that are cleverly devised from the opening battle to Blackford Hill, the call centre, the anniversary party and pub locations. In particular, the moment when the Father (John Buick) realised that his past has caught up with him amid the celebrations was well worked. A mock proposal and wedding scene also was a clever use of props and the setting.
There are a lot of local references and gags that you might have heard over at the King's at this time of year but were lapped up by an Edinburgh audience. This musical captures Leith Walk in a snell wind and the characterisations were eminently believable.
The soldiers played by Keith Fleming and Kevin Lennon were excellent with Keith excelling in the blokeish awkwardness part of his role. In the second half, the music slows down a bit and the rendering of the title song (Ann Louise Ross) and ‘Letter from America' is very poignant.
This is a good all-round cast with Gail Watson and Denise Hoey contrasting nicely as the local and English nurses.
The sizeable audience for a Monday night responded really well although there was a feeling that many really wanted to get involved in a sing-along. As the programme notes this is not a greatest hits show, but it is a musical with real edgy difference.