Sunshine on Leith ****

09Jan09

Dundee Rep Theatre presentation, currently on tour

Edinburgh, Festival Theatre: Friday 5th December 2008 – Saturday 3rd January 2009
Aberdeen, His Majesty’s Theatre: Monday 12th January 2009 – Saturday 24th January 2009
Inverness, Eden Court: Monday 26th January 2009 – Saturday 7th January 2009
Glasgow, Kings Theatre: Monday 9th February 2009 – Saturday 21st February 2009
Coventry, Belgrade Theatre: Tuesday 25th February 2009 – Saturday 28th February 2009 

Challenging what it means to be Scottish, in the twenty-first century, is starting to become a recurring motif in Scottish theatre. However, nobody does it quiet like the Dundee Rep’s musical, Sunshine on Leith. After a successful run last year, the Proclaimers’ musical is back, playing in Edinburgh over the Christmas period and then continuing on tour.

On the surface, the audience is presented with an all singing, all dancing saunter down Leith Walk, complete with, slightly stereotypical, ‘Edinburghers’ and plenty of in-jokes. Yet, underneath, this honest musical aspires to explore topical issues, shown through the lives of the six main characters. The story begins with two young soldiers returning home from Afghanistan and their search to find how they fit into the lives of the people they left behind. The central family then become entangled with stories of an old affair, a refused marriage proposal, a family party complete with a punch-up, a heart attack and, finally, the daughter’s brave move to America. Not surprisingly, due to writer Stephen Greenhorn’s background, the story involves many soap opera elements. Yet, it does not hide from the fact and embraces it’s overly sentimental musical moments.

The Proclaimers’ music seems written for the stage, as most of their songs tell a story and provide the basis for humour or a poignant moment. Particularly, the memorable “throw the R away” call centre number and Ann Louise Ross’s commanding “Sunshine on Leith” ballad. Hopefully, The Proclaimers’ popularity will continue to draw in audiences when the Dundee Rep tours south of the border. Regional theatre can be hit or miss, in other parts of the country, nevertheless the strength of the ensemble carries this production and will, most likely, appeal to people from other towns. Overall, it is a musical maybe not worth walking five hundred miles for, but it is certainly on its way.

TF

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