Sunny Afternoon, Theatre Review. Empire Theatre, Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 7.5/10

Cast: Ryan O’ Donnell, Marcelo Cervone, Victoria Anderson, Tomm Coles, Nathanial Campbell, Deryn Edwards, Andrew Gallo, Richard Hurst, Sophie Leigh Griffin, Garmon Rhys, Joseph Richardson, Robert Took, Michael Warburton, Libby Watts, Lisa Wright.

The Sixties was more than just the Stones and The Beatles, more than the burgeoning power of The Who, yet for some the Sixties only exists because of this, their immediate reference is to the three British bands from that era that truly went global and who played the American market as if was a child’s game. For groups such as The Small Faces and The Kinks the sound they produced was just as off the wall, just as intricate and finely woven in the fabric of society, it just seems to get lost in the flow of Time and the memories that some are willing to hold on to.

Sunny Afternoon seeks to address that, the almost dysfunctional relationship between arguably one of Britain’s ever finest song writers and his brother, a man to whom a guitar was not just to played but to be conquered, to show that the notes that poured out of it were moments of inspired beauty and aggression, like finding an angel, softly spoken, courteous and demure but who would also not think twice of settling a score with a punch or a chair wrapped around the ears. This is the story of one of the finest ever British bands but one at times that perhaps is massively overlooked on both sides of The Atlantic as fulsome praise falls upon habitual considered ears.

The trouble with history is that despite being measured and suited, at times it is easy to forget some things and for others, being brushed under the carpet is a way of coping with less than endearing images. Being based on the music of The Kinks is one thing, the music never less than perfect, never less than satisfying, but as a fan of the music or even wanting truly to see the whole picture, or at least more than what came to pass on stage, the play itself was arguably a little too crowded with certain memories, the nature of the piece filled with songs such as Waterloo Sunset, rightly considered one of the finest pieces of music ever created, Lola, A Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy, The Moneygoround, Dead End Street and Dedicated Follower of Fashion, is enjoyably retold but unfortunately does not go onwards, it does not flow beyond the expected narrative and for that it takes a drive into nostalgia rather than hopeful enlightenment.

For the music, you cannot ask anything more, unfortunately a musical, one based on such an iconic band, requires a little more than the groove; music though is the passion at the end of the day and to revel in such a time is the ultimate reason for seeing this production.

Ian D. Hall