From Post-War poverty in Muswell Hill to the top of the UK hit parade in the summer of 1966, Sunny Afternoon is the story of The Kinks, the 60s band that lead the way in decibel breaking guitar riffs, Mod influence and back stage feuding.
Written by Joe Pehhall and Kinks front man Ray Davies, the musical throws aside the rose-tinted spectacles usually applied to 60s based stage shows, retelling the bands story with a no-holds-barred honesty and originality.
On stage, Garmon Rhys, Andrew Gall, Ryan O Donnell and Mark Newnham, become the lives and souls of Peter Quaife, Mick Avory and brothers Ray and Dave Davies. The quartet recreate songs such as You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night with a vibrant accuracy and precision. The energy in turn spills over into the bands private lives with Newnham’s portrayal of Dave Davies been as charismatic and raucous as every guitar solo he plays.
As the story unfolds further, fame takes a hold on the band and their personalities clash. This is demonstrated effectively at a recreation of The Kinks 1965 concert at Cardiff’s Capitol Theatre with Dave and Mick violently fighting on stage while Ray and Pete try to carry on with the show.
Sunny Afternoon isn’t just a replay of the Kinks greatest hits however. The musical also delivers new renditions of classic songs while maintaining a Ray Davies air of Britishness and joy. It’s not uncommon for a multi-talented cast member to produce a brass or string instrument from the organic loudspeaker laden stage set as a new rendition of Dead End Street or Well-Respected Man begins.
Further highlights include a beautiful duet of I Go To Sleep (performed by Ryan O Donnell and Lisa Wright) and a stunning a Capella rendition of Days performed by the band and their managers Robert Wace (Joseph Richardson) and Grenville Collins (Tomm Coles).
Originality and style were always part of the Kinks criteria and Sunny Afternoon is a wonderful addition to their continuing musical legacy. The production continues at Wales Millennium Centre until January 21.