Enjoy a Sunny Afternoon at The Hampstead Theatre
The Hampstead Theatre’s latest upstairs addition is their play Sunny Afternoon which unravels the story of the Kinks; their formation, their success, their failure, their fans, their relationships, and I thought it was brilliant.
I was not around when the Kinks were taking over the radio waves, nor am I one of those cool people of my age who seek out and swear loyalty to the songs of older generations. No, my connection with the Kinks boils down to a blurry remembrance of them singing through our ancient volvo’s cassette player on a family trip to Cornwall in the mid 90s. So, I had not considered myself the ideal candidate for going to watch a play centred around this legendary band. I was, however, told before I entered that I would find I knew more songs that I’d realised.
By the first few scenes I was hooked. It is firstly important to mention the cast, who each, particularly the band members, gelled so well with each other, played brilliantly and professionally, and looked to be having a great time when the moment called for it. The songs were seamlessly woven into the story of the band’s journey. Rather than watching a musical which feels like it steps outside of its own reality when it bursts into song, watching the play felt like we were witnessing the creation of some of the most iconic songs of our time. Iconic songs like Lola, Waterloo Sunset and, of course, Sunny Afternoon, were prodded awake in a little corner of my mind. By the end I was heartily singing along to the chorus like everyone else in the theatre. The relationship between the dry, front man, Ray Davies and his younger, hot headed brother and lead guitarist, Dave, was great. I particularly enjoyed a scene where they sang a heartfelt duet; my forearms were prickling with goosebumps and I couldn’t take my eyes off them.
The end was an all encompassing fun-fest for cast and audience, indulging in great songs within a great atmosphere. I particularly enjoyed watching a gentle older lady being coaxed into dancing with a young handsome cast member. And there I was, screaming to my friend as another hit was revealed, ‘I had no idea that was them!’ But now I do.
Sunny Afternoon will be at The Hampstead Theatre until the 24th of May.