Just before closing for renovations, the iconic King’s theatre is lifting its curtain to David Shrusbsole’s latest version of Sunshine on Leith, an essential musical by Scottish playwright Stephen Greenhorn which was first performed in 2007 and subsequently adapted to the big screen in 2013.
Directed by the harmonious tandem of Elizabeth Newman & Ben Occhipinti, this time it is the well established Pitlochry Festival Theatre in collaboration with Capital Theatre to bring this renovated version of the play to the Scottish capital.
In essence, Sunshine on Leith is an open love letter to Edinburgh. By using memorable songs from the Proclaimers-Scotland’s most beloved twins-it manages to tell a universal story of belonging and finding your place in the world. In Newman’s words: “[Sunshine on Leith] It is a relationship drama; it’s about different types of love – romantic love, family love, love for friends and love for one’s community”.
The two main leads, Keith Jack and Connor Going play the parts of Ally and Dolly, two soldiers coming back to Edinburgh after experiencing the horrors of war. As they try to readapt to their civilian life, they struggle with everyday matters of life, love and finding a job outside the military. Jack and Connor’s undeniable chemistry is matched by their female counterparts: Blythe Jandoo and Rhiane Drummond. The quartet is supported by a versatile ensemble of versatile musicians who help elevate every single song to match the production’s warm and vibrant style.
The production design of Sunshine on Leith is simply exquisite. The intelligent use of space allows the audience to feel as if the whole city of Edinburgh is contained in the stage. The lights resemble the changing skies of Edinburgh and help to match the changing mood of the songs.
Act one features some of the Proclaimers’ most recognizable songs such as I’m On My Way or Over and Done With. But it isn’t until the end of Act two when the whole theatre stands up to sing and clap to the beats of 500 miles – probably the quintessential Scottish song-. Minutes before, the same audience was tearing up to the emotional Sunshine on Leith and Letter to America.
Sunshine on Leith is a treat for the eyes and for the eyes. Throughout its running time, it managed to make a whole theatre fall in love again with the city of Edinburgh by reminding them of the importance of reconnecting with a city made by the thousands of stories of its people.
Playing until 18th June, https://www.capitaltheatres.com/whats-on/sunshine-on-leith
Reviewer: Nazaret Ranea
Reviewed: 7th June 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★