Walk 500 miles to see this terrific show
Sunshine on Leith, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, to June 9. I first saw Sunshine on Leith over 10 years ago at the Belgrade. I loved the music then, the Proclaimers songs weave into the narrative and strengthen the story. This production, by the West Yorkshire Playhouse does not disappoint. In fact it is even better.
It has really moved with the times. Without losing the underlying story it has become more political. The underfunding and privatisation of the NHS gets a mention, as does Brexit, and even Nicola Sturgeon features. The tale is the same. Two old mates, soldiers, return from war to their beloved Leith to settle back into civilian life. The characters are strong. Steven Miller and Paul- James Corrigan play the ex-squaddies trying to rebuild relationships with their families and friends. Hilary McClean as mum Jean, is impressive as she deals with revelations of her husband Rab’s (Phil McKee) infidelity.
It’s all about love, loss, family, parenthood and growing up. At times it's very funny, at others tender, sensitive and moving. It makes for a cracking good night out. The performances - the acting, singing and dancing - are all brilliant, as is the choreography. And the cleverly-constructed set transports us easily through busy Edinburgh streets and bars.
And of course there are the 18 timeless Proclaimers songs - sounding better than ever. The stroke of genius with this production is bringing a superb band on to the stage. Guitarists and singers pop up behind desks and in bars with the tunes forming part of the action rather than being imposed on it.
By the time we get into the second half we are all singing along with some old favourites. I loved Letter from America, and everyone was up on their feet for the finale I’m Gonna Be 500 miles. All in all, an outstanding production. You'll love it, but you'll need to get in quick. The theatre was virtually full on opening night.
For tickets go to: http://www.belgrade.co.uk/