Theatre Review: Sunshine on Leith - King's Theatre, Glasgow ✭✭✭✭✭

Review by Sharman Prince

Sunshine on Leith peppers the songs of The Proclaimers throughout an adroit, humourous and moving script by Stephen Greenhorn which has been slightly updated since its premiere in 2007. 

Following a tour of military duty overseas Davy and Ally return to their hometown of Edinburgh and have to adapt to life as 'civvies' but, perhaps, their most difficult struggle lies ahead - love. Life is not so simple for their families either and they, too, must answer the questions, 'How far would you go for those you care about?' and 'What constitutes home?'

Director James Brining stages the musical in an eclectic and thrilling way, keeping the stage alive with movement, action and moments of physical theatre. Brining handles Greenhorn's finely tuned libretto with a deft hand and perfectly tailors each scene with suitable care and attention. The musicians are also brilliantly integrated and Emily-Jane Boyle's illuminating choreography emerges seamlessly from the action.  Colin Richmond's design is surprisingly versatile and is refined by some beautifully evocative lighting by Tim Mitchell.

For a 'jukebox' musical the songs by The Proclaimers are incorporated so successfully that one forgets they were not written especially for the stage. The variety of songs is also surprising and they range from the majestically moving to the ebulliently joyous and, with the script, serve to create one of the most dramatically and theatrically successful musicals ('jukebox' or otherwise) of modern times. Kudos must also be given to music arranger David Shrubsole, sound designer Richard Brooker and musical director Toby Higgins who, jointly, service the score eminently providing several spine-tingling moments.

Phil McKee's Rab and Hilary Maclean as Jean handle one of the most dramatic story-lines with skilled ease, masterfully creating a meaningful relationship that movingly speaks to an audience. 

Jocasta Almgill's Yvonne and Neshla Caplan's Liz are executed with rounded precision, rising beyond mere love interests and catalysing the denouement with their characters' various choices. 

The ensemble is comprised of outstanding artists, some of whom augment the brilliant band becoming actor/musicians led by a dynamic Tyler Collins and John McLarnon.

As Ally Paul-James Corrigan crafts an adept performance, formulating a character ultimately tortured by frustration. Well known for his role in television's River City, Corrigan here proves himself a versatile and engaging musical performer.

That former Casualty actor Steven Miller is not a bigger name is something of a puzzle: as Davy he is a sterling leading man with a beautifully lyrical voice and deft physical prowess with a sincere acting style absolutely in sync with the piece - something true of every performer onstage.

A splendid entertainment that provides an uplifting force whilst simultaneously impressing a more sober message of family and home, Sunshine on Leith is a superbly constructed modern musical executed with sublime magnificence. One not to be missed!

Sunshine on Leith is at the King's Theatre until Saturday 23rd June. For tickets visit ATG Tickets