Review: Sunny Afternoon at Sheffield Lyceum

Mark Newnham (Dave Davies), Ryan O'Donnell (Ray Davies), Garmon Rhys (Peter Quaife) and Andrew Gallo (Mick Avery) in Sunny Afternoon. Photo by Kevin Cummings.
Mark Newnham (Dave Davies), Ryan O'Donnell (Ray Davies), Garmon Rhys (Peter Quaife) and Andrew Gallo (Mick Avery) in Sunny Afternoon. Photo by Kevin Cummings.
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A touring production of the celebrated musical based on the Kinks sets Sheffield’s Lyceum Theatre alight with its energy, wit and inventiveness.

Sunny Afternoon has the raw power of a live rock show, the depth and subtlety of a multi-layered play, and the incisiveness of a social satire.

The show is about the music industry, but also the English class system seen from the perspective of a group of working-class lads from London.

The four actors who play Ray, Dave, Pete and Mick are talented musicians in their own right, as well as developing their characters with authenticity and humour.

Ray (Ryan O’Donnell) is at the centre of the show – the songwriter who gave the group its distinctive quality.

Mark Newnham brings a dangerous edge to Ray’s younger brother, Dave, with his unnerving instinct for anarchy and mayhem.

The rivalry between the brothers is nicely done; and their relationship with their parents touchingly portrayed.

The show starts with the group’s first hit single, You Really Got Me, in 1964, andincludes such wonderful songs as See My Friends, Dedicated Follower of Fashion, Dead End Street, Waterloo Sunset, and, of course, Sunny Afternoon.

We see the songs arising out of Ray’s day to day life, including his relationship with Rasa, his girlfriend, beautifully played by Lisa Wright. At the end the audience rises to join in an ecstatic rendition of Lola.

Based on a book by prize-winning playwright Joe Penhall and with music and lyrics by RayDavies, Sunny Afternoon is on until Saturday, October 29.