Reviews

Sunshine On Leith

4

From song to stage to screen. Da-da-da.

Following a near-fatal tour of duty, squaddies Davy (George MacKay) and Ally (Kevin Guthrie) return to Edinburgh with a song in their hearts and rockets in their pockets.

On the eve of their 25th wedding anniversary, Davy’s parents Rab and Jean (Peter Mullan – no menace, just soft centre – and Jane Horrocks) welcome them home; Liz (Freya Mavor) is thrilled boyfriend Ally’s safe and well, so fixes brother Davy up with pretty pal Yvonne (Antonia Thomas) to celebrate.

Yet into every life some rain must fall (even if, in this alternate Edinburgh, the heavens only open to make the cobbles gleam by moonlight): Rab’s past comes back to haunt him, and nurse Liz has her sights set far from the Firth of Forth...

Essentially, the narrative of this Proclaimers jukebox musical is just a stretched-out soap episode. The dialogue’s sparse (writer Stephen Greenhorn has deftly adapted his own stage production), but that’s all the better for putting the songs to the fore. They’re simple but soulful and require no previous knowledge to enjoy, with even the least well-known lodging in your brain like you’ve always known the refrains.

The arrangements – courtesy of Paul Englishby – make the most of The Proclaimers’ harmonies, adding in third and fourth parts to really make things sing.

But it’s the direction that’s essential here. Aged nine, Dexter Fletcher began his career under movie-musical maestro Alan Parker, as Baby Face in Bugsy Malone, and in this follow-up to feature debut Wild Bill he puts that summer of splurge guns to great effect.

There’s such spirit on show, such – dare we say it – glee, you’ll gladly forgive the odd not-so-smooth segue into song, wobbly accent or cheapo aerial shot.

You can probably predict what the last song will be, but the fabulous flashmob finale is something Parker himself would be proud of. Because like every good musical should, it leaves you elated.

Verdict:

Pitched perfectly between microbudget miracle Once and all-star Aegean romp Mamma Mia! What these songs lack in recognition they make up for in feelgood factor.

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