Sunshine (and Showers) on Leith

Back in 2019 BC, at this time of year, I had a spreadsheet covered with shows I wanted to see, needed to see, had been asked to see, or just wondered whether I might see.  I had a schedule and I planned to try and write up most of my Edinburgh Festival Fringe experiences in this Blog.

This year 2021 mid Covid, the EdFringe is very different affair – and rather wonderful too. It feels much closer to my 1970s experiences in student theatre companies here.  I am looking forward, today, to just seeing what I fancy as I visit the Space venues for the first time this year.  Always a place to find some unexpected gems, yet to hit the big time.

But last night Kath and I kicked off our fringe experience with Captivate Theatre’s exuberant and joyful Sunshine on Leith. (Playing nightly 18:30 20:00 till Aug 29th) A large company of Edinburgh based performers and musicians who first presented the show back in 2014. They couldn’t miss the chance to come back together to tell these interwoven love stories set in Leith.  And they gave it their all. Powerful voices, great harmonies, heartfelt characterisation and all set against the most extraordinary backdrop of Edinburgh Castle.

Gilded Balloon, DanceBase, the Traverse and Zoo have come together to transform the Castle Terrace carpark into MultiStory

On a typically damp Edinburgh August evening everything was done to make us feel welcome. The staff at the venue were clear in their directions around the space, bright and welcoming. The strange barcode drinks ordering system we are getting used to was as pain free as it can be when we are denied the chance to order at a facility – but safety first.  Our seats were in lovely identified safety pods and were individually dried before we arrived.  It is the little things that make for a good welcome. Thank you to all the team we met.

This 90 minute tightly crafted book musical by Stephen Greenhorn with the hits of the Proclaimers woven into the fabric of the piece, was a joy. I never saw  James Brining/Hilary Brooks original award winning 2007 production, nor saw the film. I didn’t know the vast majority of the songs and that gave it an added joy. To quote Mark Fisher’s original April 2007 Guardian review “why did it take 20 years before anyone noticed the Proclaimers were born to be turned into a musical? Not since Willy Russell came up with Blood Brothers has Britain produced such a perfect and perfectly unexpected marriage of music and theatre”.  And why did it take me 14 years to catch up with it.

Thank you to producer Michael Fraser, director Sally Lyall, musical direction Caitlin Morgan and this 2021 company with, I gather, many of the original 2014 cast.  [Sadly no programme and no cast list on the website of Captivate Theatre. – plea from me – please add a list…the company deserve to be name checked]   Do try and catch this show – it is everything that is should be in a heartfelt festival of respair – great talent coming together to generate a sense of joy for a community of theatregoers of all ages getting out to be in a live creative space again after too long in lockdown.  Grab a ticket if you still can https://tickets.multistory.scot/event/14:3727/

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