Review by Carly Fisher
From the moment you walk into the Spiegeltent at the Assembly Rooms, it is clear that this show is a sentimental Scottish favourite for many in the audience and the almost sold-out crowd were definitely keen to support their home grown talent. And let’s face it, who doesn’t like the music of the Proclaimers - it is just so catchy!
As a musical theatre lover, I really wanted to love this Scottish musical but sadly there were some fundamental flaws that prevented this.
Most importantly, this is the wrong venue for a musical. It was so distracting having the cast run in and out through the tent and clumsily flinging the back door open, bleeding in bright light and having the noisy hinges of the door creaking throughout. Quick changes were done at the back of the tent as well with the actors too often frantically whispering at each other to not be distracting. The outside loud crowd makes the already quiet scene work almost impossible to hear and the columns that may not prove problematic for comedy, cabaret or burlesque (as these tents are generally used for), are right in the way of sight lines for plays and musicals. It’s a shame but unfortunately the Bijou tent was simply not the right home for this show.
The cast, by and large, have strong voices with some certainly standing out amongst the crowded stage. Most of the cast share their roles with other actors and unfortunately it is hard therefore to credit the correct actor, however, the day I went, it was the performer in the role of Liz (either Jess Nolan or Carley Duncan) who stole the stage with beautiful, powerful vocals and well executed characterisation. Sandy Queenan as Rab gives a beautifully authentic performance as well, particularly towards the end, really drawing on the heartstrings of all parents in the room, and their kids who are eager to see what else the world has to offer for them beyond their own surroundings.
The Ensemble seems to house some of the greatest talent on stage and it was great to hear little bits and pieces in the way of solos from them. I imagine that the rotating cast allows for each of them to take the lime light on a different day and with such stand out individuals within the team, I can appreciate that decision.
The choreography is basic at best, and I would have liked to see it attacked with more precision and sharpness but at least in the choreo’s simplicity, it gives the whole cast the opportunity to execute it with relative ease. The show is clean and has been well rehearsed.
Scene work fell into a strange rhythm often coming across as a lack of natural chemistry between the actors. That said, it is hard to tell whether this is the case or whether the overpowering underscoring music or distracting crowd outside simply made the stage feel too distant to be drawn into these more intimate scenes. In general, the band did overpower the cast a bit too often but that is simply down to sound mixing and is an easy fix.
I wish we could have heard the scenes between the songs with greater clarity - based on the skill of the performers on stage, I think that there would have been some truly beautiful moments to indulge in there.
With these few flaws pushed to the side, this is a high energy production that clearly has a huge amount of passion instilled in it by its creative team, cast and the exceptionally well attended audiences that flock to the tent daily.
It is fantastic to see how much Captivate Theatre Company has on offer this year at the Fringe that highlights the local talent here in Edinburgh. Whilst I couldn’t highly recommend Sunshine on Leith in its current setting, I certainly would be keen to see more of what Captivate has to offer and am grateful for the chance to see local talent shine.