They seek me here, they seek me there… And at the moment they may as well try the Harold Pinter Theatre!
By the time I’d heard about Sunny Afternoon at Hampstead Theatre it had sold out, so you can imagine how thrilled I was when I heard it was transferring to the West End.
Now, I’ve crammed a lot of theatre in over the last two and a half years (‘Travelling Light’ in May 2012 was when I first got the bug), but I can safely say that Sunny Afternoon is one of the best things I’ve ever seen!
And to think I actually wasn’t particularly looking forward to my first viewing of it… Unthinkable. Well, it was Hallowe’en, I was hoping to see something on that theme (a further viewing of The Phantom of the Opera was my first choice) – but my parents were over for the weekend and they chose Sunny Afternoon. Despite the fact that our view of the ‘catwalk’ part of the stage was totally obscured (we were up in the gods), I left the theatre feeling utterly euphoric. (And with the official soundtrack, might I add.)
So, of course, I felt I needed to see the show again – and at slightly closer quarters this time! With that in mind, I got one of the table seats in the stalls for Saturday just gone (15th November). Yes, they have tables – shaped like proper LPs!
Oh my God. Somehow it was even better! I’ve started to get obsessed with sitting in the stalls at shows (particularly ones I’ve seen a few times), as there are so many nuances and asides you can pick up on being that close. Particular favourites of mine were Ray playing the washboard in ‘Dead End Street’, and Dave’s muttering and swearing (smattered throughout!). Plus being that close meant I was right next to one of the speakers, so the sound just went right through me – my ears won’t thank me for it, but I’ll worry about that in a few years’ time!
Having listened to the soundtrack a lot over the intervening fortnight, the songs has so much more of an effect on me – ‘Sitting In My Hotel’ and ‘Too Much On My Mind’, in particular. I can really identify with the feelings behind them, as I’ve had problems with sleep and not being able to switch off for over three years now – so I know what that can do to a mind!
I plucked up the courage to go to the stage door afterwards (difficult at times for a naturally shy and introverted person) and left a very happy girl! Considering they had been up until the early hours – a Friday evening performance followed by the closing slot on Children in Need (still available on iPlayer at the moment, 10 minutes from the end of Part 3!) – it was very generous of them to take the time to chat and be in photos. Which is really appreciated by we stage doorers!
It’s also helped me to appreciate my new surroundings a lot more: I attempted to capture a ‘Waterloo Sunset’ on Sunday, but the weather was against me…
On a whim this afternoon I decided to go again tonight (the ultimate form of London procrastination – I’m supposed to be writing an MSc research proposal!) and managed to bag a seat in the stalls, this time on the other side of the stage. So a different view – and to top it off, I had bubbly (or whatever was passing for bubbly) sprayed all over me! Now that’s a 4-D experience!
Once again, it just got better. My face was aching from laughing and smiling so much! And when the cast are so obviously enjoying themselves it’s totally infectious!
Ah, the cast! No big stars, but that enhances its appeal; so many times I go to see a show because of a particular actor being in it, so when something can stand apart from that you know it must be special. My two standouts, quite predictably, are the Davies brothers.
George Maguire completely inhabits the role of Dave Davies. Not only does he have the look down to a tee, but even when his character is on the periphery of a scene his commitment never falters. Add to that his amazing vocal range (especially noting the ending of ‘Till the End of the Day’) and we’re onto a winner!
You’d never know that John Dagleish was making his West End debut. He’s so assured and confident as Ray Davies, and has fantastic comic timing. But to be able to go from pithy one-liners one minute to exploring the innermost depths of his character’s psyche the next – that’s special. And he has the style of singing voice mastered! It’s no surprise he’s been nominate for the Emerging Talent Award in the 2014 Evening Standard Theatre Awards!
So I’ve now managed to see the show three times in under three weeks – and I’d actually booked a ticket for this Friday evening on Sunday… Four viewings in under a month is my new record for a show – that surely speaks for itself!
Oh, and if you do decide to go, please get up on your feet for the curtain call performances – I was up before most of the people sat around me this evening and it felt like an age before anyone else joined me! I felt very exposed standing in the sea of seated people… But hopefully the band appreciated my appreciation!
Favourite song: Dedicated Follower of Fashion
Favourite line: “You look like Ava Gardner on a massive bender!”
Favourite moments: Pete continuing to play (even taking over the drums!) during the infamous re-creation of the Cardiff onstage bust-up; Dave swinging from the chandelier, whilst wearing a pink dress (as you do!).