Review: Sunny Afternoon, Wales Millennium Centre

Sunny Afternoon is the hit musical about the rise of The Kinks with music and lyrics by frontman Ray Davies and book by screenwriter Joe Penhall. It depicts The Kinks’ early years as a band and the story behind their biggest hits, as well as exploring the Davies’ brothers rivalry, the band’s banning from the USA and management issues.

The set and design for the play was intricate and cleverly done. The stage had a platform protruding into the audience which was used as an aeroplane and for the concert performances.  The set was detailed but also quite simple, with the background of stacked stereos and with lighting indicating change of scenes. Large set pieces dropped down throughout the performance to indicate where the characters were such as a giant record to represent the recording studio. The audience can see the set being changed with people wheeling props into view which gave it a realistic feel to go with the true events and the actors walk in front of this and change during scenes. The costumes were colourful and perfectly captured the 60s. Along with the design, the 60s vibes made most of the jokes. The play was extremely funny and played on history that we already know, for example Ray Davies bets that England will win the World Cup, which they did in 1966. The actors showed off the big personalities of the band with Mark Newnham’s Dave Davies incredibly talent with guitar playing, singing and hilarious acting, Lisa Wright’s Rasa’s beautiful supporting vocals and solo songs and Ryan O’Donnell perfectly captured the frontman.

The music was flawless. The band were seamless and it was amazing to have the main characters be able to sing and play their instruments almost professionally, with two extra players on the side of the stage to help amplify the noise to fill the room. The end scene was like a gig or tribute show with The Kinks’ best hits played and the cast encouraging everyone to sing and clap along. The play perfectly captured the start of The Kinks and the performance is a perfect mix of music, conflict and funny one-liners which created a very enjoyable evening overall!

Beth Girdler- Maslen