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  • Writer's pictureNeill Kovacic-Clarke

REVIEW: STANDING AT THE SKY'S EDGE @ GILLIAN LYNNE THEATRE

🎭 Standing at the Sky's Edge 

📍 Gillian Lynne Theatre, 166 Drury Lane, Holborn, London, WC2B 5PW

🗓 Saturday 2nd March 2024

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️



A BEAUTIFUL SHOW


Set at Park Hill, Sheffield's most famous estate, Standing at the Sky's Edge is a raw an emotional look at everyday Yorkshire lives. We are taken through the keyhole of one of the flats at Park Hill from it's first occupants in 1960, right up until 2020.


We follow 3 sets of occupants simultaneously during their tenure in the flat. The wonderfully creative way that this is done feels new and exciting as we flip-flop between the stories. There are occasions when all three are happening at the same time but Chris Bush's writing means that we are never confused and can completely follow each story in a coherent manner.



The set design here is inspired. The flat itself is purposely bland and acts as a mere representation of the space. This is because it has to span a 60 year period and change eras instantly. Behind we see the tower block itself which is used at times by the actors but also houses the orchestra which can be seen through the windows throughout.


As much as I loved the set design by Ben Stones, I feel he missed a trick by not including the iconic 'streets in the sky' which made Park Hill so famous. They are represented by the graffiti but it would have been nice to actually see one.


A real ensemble piece, the entire cast are exceptional. There is not one weak link in the company and the acting and vocals are top tier.



Laura Pitt-Pulford as Poppy gave a wonderfully believable performance and Lauryn Redding as her love interest Nikki was funny and had breathtaking vocals. Other notable performances came from Elizabeth Ayodele as Joy, Mel Lowe as Connie and Samuel Jordan as Jimmy. Joel Harper-Jackson was exquisite as we saw life take its toll on Harry which is heartbreaking to watch.


In a departure from the usual production values of a musical, it is not often the characters in the middle of the action which perform the songs. They are often sung by a third party, giving the vibes of a film rather than a stage production. Also, whether it is a main character or not singing, the songs are usually performed with a hand held microphone as if it were a concert.


The score here is good and is a collection of songs from the back catalogue of Sheffield indie musician Richard Hawley. On the most part they work well but there are times when the songs didn't seem to entirely match what was happening in the story. I believe a change in lyrics on occasion would have been beneficial here.



That being said the songs are all enjoyable and the performances of them were exceptional. The title song Standing at the Sky's Edge is performed by all 28 cast members and is a real vocal treat.


Robert Hastie's direction and Lynne Page's choreography are fantastic and really bring the story together and keep it moving. The seamless shifts between each era is a wonder to behold and is utterly compelling.


Overall this is an exceptional piece of theatre that is not to be missed. After an initial run at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield and a successful run at the National Theatre last year, Standing at the Sky's Edge utterly deserves its West End transfer and I would love to return to this show for a second viewing.



Billed as a love letter to Sheffield, the patrons sat next to me were from the area and had lived through all the eras depicted and felt a real emotional connection to the show, which showed me just how true that statement is.


Standing at the Sky's Edge plays at the Gillian Lynne Theatre until 3rd August 2024. Head to all your usual places for tickets! If you're a fan of last minute booking, you can get rush tickets on the day for £30 via the TodayTix app.


Neill Kovacic-Clarke


All views are my own and I pride myself on being honest, fair and free from influence. Theatre is subjective and it is important to remember that all views expressed are just those of one reviewer.



CAST LIST:

Jonathan Andre as Max / Workman 3; Monique Ashe-Palmer as Onstage Swing; Elizabeth Ayodele as Joy; Jonathan Bentley as Gary / Nigel / Workman 1; Adam Colebeck-Dunn as Onstage Swing; Viquichele Cross as Onstage Swing; Jamie Doncaster as Onstage Swing; Caroline Fitzgerald as Onstage Swing; Luca Foster-Lejune as Young Jimmy; Mya Fox-Scott as Jenny; Joel Harper-Jackson as Harry; Sharlene Hector as Grace / Alice; Samuel Jordan as Jimmy; Jerome Lincoln as Onstage Swing; Mel Lowe as Connie; David McKechnie as Joe / Workman 2; Sean McLevy as Onstage Swing; Rachael Louise Miller as Cathy; Baker Mukasa as George; Alastair Natkiel as Marcus / Housing Officer; Chioma Nduka as Young Connie; Laura Pitt-Pulford as Poppy; Adam Price as Charles / Trev / Seb; Lauryn Redding as Nikki; Nicola Sloane as Vivienne / Karen; Lillie-Pearl Wildman as Justine; Karen Wilkinson as Onstage Swing; Rachael Wooding as Rose


RUNNING TIME (approx):

2 hours 50 minutes, including interval


CONTENT WARNINGS:

Adult themes and strong language; Scenes depicting physical violence, alcohol abuse and death; Vaping and smoking of herbal cigarettes; Loud sound effects; Flashing lights and haze



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