Image: Manuel Harlan

Sunshine on Leith review: “A heart-warming evening with endearing Scottish accents”

Set in the town of Leith north of Edinburgh, this upbeat musical based on the songs of The Proclaimers starts with recently discharged army servicemen Ally and Davy’s return home from Afghanistan. The story follows their readjustment in Scottish society, with Ally reuniting with his girlfriend Liz (Davy’s sister), and a new romance blossoming for Davy with Liz’s English friend Yvonne, both of whom are nurses.

We also follow the story of Rab and Jean, Davy and Liz’s parents, whose seemingly perfect 30 year marriage is rocked by a scandalous discovery. With themes of family, love, identity and belonging, each character has a unique perspective on what home means to them. As such, there is at least one character that everyone can relate to.

With themes of family, love, identity and belonging, each character has a unique perspective on what home means to them

Liz’s dreams of moving to America contrast with Ally’s desire to settle down. Davy’s closeness to his family makes Yvonne think about her mother in England. At the same time, parallels are drawn between civilian life and military life. Ally in particular wonders if his home is in Leith or whether he should return to the army. We see these young characters think about what they want from life and what home means to them – for the most part home is not a place but is dictated by the people you love.

Despite the sometimes morose storylines, this show remains high energy throughout. This can be attributed to the amusing one-liners, for example a joke about Kim and Kanye, which keeps the dialogue fresh and modern. Whilst at first glance each storyline is quite different, the songs bring all the narratives together, highlighting the similarities between them. Performed with palpable passion, the song ‘Hate My Love’ is a particularly poignant example of this, showing that no matter what our stories are, we all feel the same emotions. The musical presence on stage, especially with the guitarists performing alongside the actors, further enhances the impact of the music in the play.

One of the most humorous scenes revolves around the appropriate Scottish accent that a call centre employee should use

The choreography and cohesiveness of the actors on stage is excellent. In particular, Steven Miller (Davy) and Jocasta Almgill (Yvonne) have great chemistry and I found myself emotionally invested in their rollercoaster relationship. Scottish culture is referenced throughout, from the posters of Irn-Bru to Rab’s kilt; one of the most humorous scenes revolves around the appropriate Scottish accent that a call centre employee should use. Despite this, the issues presented in the play are relatable no matter where you are from, and so can be enjoyed by many.

‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’ is performed in the finale, and as an audience member you will struggle not to sing along. A perfect ending to the show, it encompasses the vitality of the play and finishes on a high.

Although the singing is not one of the strengths of this show, the choreography, acting and production more than make up for it. The flow from the dialogue into the songs is cheesy at times, but rom-com lovers will appreciate this. All in all, you will leave the theatre feeling uplifted and thoroughly entertained. If you are looking for a heart-warming evening with some endearing Scottish accents, I highly recommend going to see this play while you can.

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