SUNNY AFTERNOON The Kinks Musical 2014

“You and Brian Jones. Don Juan with a plectrum”

Ray to his brother Dave

John Dagleish as Ray Davies and George Maguire as Dave Davies (Photo: Kevin Cummins)

Musicals are taking over the West End. Fewer and fewer plays are being produced as the public flood to see popular musicals.

When you get the back catalogue from a group as good as The Kinks, you can approach it in three ways: at its most simple, the tribute concert which was Let It Be. . . the biographical play with music that was Backbeat or Jersey Boys . . . or the fantasy story set around the songs like Mamma Mia with Abba’s hit numbers. If you choose your band well you can make a very successful musical as Edward Hall and Joe Penhall have done with Sunny Afternoon which transfers from Hampstead Theatre to the Harold Pinter in the West End.

Whether these biographical musicals work well or not depends on the original lyrics and how well they fit into a storyline. Sunny Afternoon owes its impact to Ray Davies (John Dagleish) writing about his life and his perception of the world with lyrical skill. It’s not just the Kinks‘ rock tunes that are so brilliant but the meaningful lyrics.

The Kinks‘ music has influenced a generation of popular music and beyond. The ups and downs of the band with the rows between Dave Davies (George Maguire) and others in the group including his elder brother make for a dramatic story which Joe Penhall has adapted into the book of the musical from Ray Davies’ story of their first two years in the business.

The musical opens in an early 1960s club with rather sedate debutante types dancing in long evening frocks until they break into “I Gotta Move” and get altogether more lively. “Dedicated Follower of Fashion” beautifully describes the Carnaby Street influenced 1960s. From early days in North London with six sisters, at The Clissold Arms and practising in their bedroom, while his brother Dave Davies searches for a raw, sonic, extreme sound on his amplified guitar, their managers introduce Ray’s songs to music publishers in London’s Denmark Street, familiarly known as Tin Pan Alley, with the song “Denmark Street”.

Miriam Buether’s design has a backdrop of the circular insides of loud speakers, a mini recording studio set up and a long walkway stretching out in the centre of the stalls to Row G. Her 1960s dolly birds are adorned in mini dresses and Adam Cooper’s choreography has them dancing to The Kinks‘ tunes. This musical captures the spirit of the era and when they go on the BBC’s “Top of the Pops” with “You Really Got Me” there is a squad of gyrating Pan’s People dancers. At the rear of the auditorium are nightclub style tables for a few of the audience.

What makes Sunny Afternoon real is the relevance of the lyrics but what makes it outstanding is the quality of performance. The actor musicians are supported by a live band but they all sing their own songs and play their guitars and drums as well as acting.  Some are veterans of Propellor, Edward Hall’s all male company known for their lively Shakespearean interpretations. John Dagleish shows Ray’s conflicts as touring to the USA and his wife and child present differing demands and they fall foul of the American trade unions. George Maguire is tremendous as cross dressing, bi-sexual Dave Davies, eccentric and off the wall but almost impossible to work with, remembering of course that this is elder brother Ray’s version of events.

In terms of believability and great tunes, Sunny Afternoon convinces and pleases in equal measure due to great craftsmanship by director, writers and actors. It is the whole package and had the whole audience on its feet for the last half hour of memorable songs. 

The Cast of The Kinks (Photo: Kevin Cummin)

Musical Numbers

Act One

You Still Want Me

I Gotta Move/You Really got Me

Just Can’t Go To Sleep

Denmark Street

A Well Respected Man

Dead End Street

Dedicated Follower of Fashion

You Really Got Me

(This Time Tomorrow into) Set Me Free

Till the End of the Day

This Strange Effect

Stop Your Sobbing

This Is Where I Belong

Where Have All The Good Times Gone

/All Day and All of the Night


Act Two

This Time Tomorrow

Maximum Consumption

Sitting In My Hotel

I Go To Sleep

I’m Not Like Everybody Else

Too Much On My Mind/Tired of Waiting

The Moneygoround

Sunny Afternoon

A Rock ‘n Roll Fantasy


A Long Way From Home

Waterloo Sunset


All Day and All of the Night/ You Really Got Me

Look A Little On The Sunny Side


Production Notes

Sunny Afternoon

Music and Lyrics by Ray Davies

Book by Joe Penhall

Original Story by Ray Davies

Directed by Edward Hall



John Dagleish

George Maguire

Tam Williams

Philip Bird

Ned Derrington

Adam Sopp

Lillie Flynn

Vince Leigh

Dominic Tighe

Emily Goodenough


Carly Anderson

Ashley Campbell

Ben Caplan

Elizabeth Hill

Amy Ross

Peter Friesen


Director: Edward Hall

Designer: Miriam Buether

Music and Vocal Adaptations:

Ray Davies and Elliott Ware

Choreography:  Adam Cooper

Musical Director: Elliott Ware

Sound Design: Matt McKenzie

Lighting Design: Rick Fisher


Running Time:  

Two Hours 45 minutes

without an interval

Closed at the Pinter 2016 but on tour to 2020


Harold Pinter

Panton Street

London SW1Y 4SW

Tube : Piccadilly Circus

Telephone: 03330 096 690


Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge at the Harold Pinter Theatre

on 25th October 2014