Sunshine on Leith
Stephen Greenhorn, featuring music by The Proclaimers
Dundee Rep production
Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, and touring
Latest in the trend of musicals that recycle rock and pop is Sunshine on Leith, a celebration of life in Edinburgh's rough-and-tumble dockside community. This show isn't as fluffy as other musicals in this genre (Mama Mia! and Tonight's the Night, to name two) and Greenhorn's willingness to pull political issues about nationalism and the NHS into the mix of a story about three couples' love affairs brings an interesting dimension to the production.
Unlike smash hits about Leith from other artforms (Trainspotting, anyone?) Sunshine on Leith is largely positive about what it means to live in Scotland generally, and Leith in particular. The Edinburgh-based crowd was eating out of the cast's hands, laughing in all the right places. The humour is also more inclusive and widely accessible than that in, for example, the National Theatre of Scotland's recent revival of John Byrne's Tutti Frutti. Where Byrne's work is somewhat exclusive, Greenhorn's script and characters are generous, well-constructed, and easy to engage with.
Some cast members have stronger voices than others, particularly actresses Emily Winter and Gail Watson, but the enthusiasm of the production is such that even the less than stellar voices don't detract from the experience of watching.
While the show was received well by audiences in Edinburgh, and will doubtless have good runs in its next two venues (Glasgow and Aberdeen), it would be interesting to see whether it could charm non-Scottish audiences to quite the same degree.
Reviewer: Rachel Lynn Brody