I was curious as to why Ray Davies, the classic complicated bugger, would have given such a venture his blessing. Jukebox musicals are not cool, are they. Or has the genre turned a corner at last, with this?
The Harold Pinter Theatre on London's Panton Street lends itself well to the style of the piece. They've transformed the auditorium into a cute cocktail club. Braver theatre-goers sit among the action, and get sprayed-on. The stage is wall-to-wall amps. Every member of the band can play instruments and sing, convincingly. This factor alone gives it five stars. There are few things worse than watching passable actors faking virtuosity on a guitar.
Nor does the storyline shy from the cold, hard facts of the Davies brothers' childhood. Little wonder that Ray imploded, moulding and remoulding his troubled thoughts and inner struggles into songs. His punk-mod theme was ordinary working class people and their little British lives. Consequent management wrangles, their bust-ups with the AFM in the US which prevented the Kinks from working in America during the height of the British Invasion, Ray's mental and physical breakdown, their dalliance with rottweiler Allan Klein, are all confronted. It's an honest piece. It offsets the nostalgic vibe of Swinging London and Carnaby Street, while reminding us that it was all about the music.
'Waterloo Sunset'. 'Days'. 'Lola'. 'Dedicated Follower of Fashion'. 'You Really Got Me'. Sounds of the Sixties? Not so much. These songs are the sounds of now.