Sunshine on Leith

Aug 6 2023 | By More

★★★☆☆    Catchy tunes

Assembly Rooms: Thurs 3 – Sat 26 Aug 2023
Review by Torya Hughes

Captivate Theatre’s sell out audiences for their production of Sunshine on Leith, in the Bijou Spiegel tent outside the Assembly Rooms on George Street, is testament to both the show’s popularity and the group’s reputation.

The show features the music of The Proclaimers, and was first staged back in 2007 at Dundee Rep before being made into a feature film. It follows Davy and Ally, two Scottish soldiers who head home to Leith from their final tour of duty in Afghanistan.

The 2023 cast of Sunshine on Leith from Captivate Theatre. Pic: Captivate

Ally plans to propose to girlfriend Liz, a nurse at the local hospital, but she’s not sure if she wants to settle down just yet. Liz sets up her brother Davy with her colleague Yvonne for a blind date, and the two hit it off.

Meanwhile, Davy’s dad Rab is tracked down by Eilidh, a daughter he fathered years ago as the product of an affair, which is terrible timing as he is about to celebrate his 30th wedding anniversary with wife Jean. The Proclaimers songs are cleverly woven throughout the piece, and the story is firmly rooted in Leith.

Davy, played by Sean Quinn, and Martin Mitchell’s Ally are plausible best friends, a pair of carefree young lads with a cheeky side. Both are believable in their respective relationships with Liz and Yvonne.

authentically portrayed

Jessica Nolan portrays Liz as a little subdued at times, but shows off a beautiful soulful voice in What Do You Do?. Catherine Bain’s Yvonne is more fiery, with a flirtatious edge. However the relationship between Rab and Jean is the most beautifully observed, and authentically portrayed.

Sandy Queenan as Rab is perfectly dour and witty at the same time, grumbling about his wife yet still trying his luck for a cheeky cuddle on the sofa when the kids are away. Hazel Beattie’s portrayal of Jean steals the show. She manages to be no-nonsense but touchingly vulnerable, and has a powerhouse voice – her interpretation of the title song is particularly beautiful.

The 2023 cast of Sunshine on Leith from Captivate Theatre. Pic: Captivate

Sarah McLeod is warm and likeable as Eilidh. The ensemble generally work well together, although some verge on being a little hammy at times. The actor playing Moira stands out, with great comic timing and a flair for accents.

Unfortunately the venue does not lend itself well to this kind of show. There are two large pillars at the front of the stage which often impede the view, and there is a lot of noise bleed from outside the tent which sometimes makes it hard to hear the dialogue.

Sally Lyall’s direction attempts to mitigate the venue’s limitations as much as possible, staging scenes centrally and bringing characters on and off through the audience. The pace is a little slow at times, particularly near the start, and dialogue scenes sometimes feel a little flat. However the rousing final number 500 Miles gets everyone clapping along, and showcases some snappy choreography from Dannielle Logan. Tommie Travers leads a small but energetic band, with the sound balance between music and vocalists just right.

Despite the issues with the venue, Sunshine on Leith is an entertaining afternoon at the theatre, and likely send you home with a few earworms as well.

Running time: One hour and 30 minutes (no interval)
Assembly Rooms (Bijou), 54 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2LR (Venue 20)Thurs
Thursday 3 – Saturday 26 August 2023
Daily: 3.30pm.
Tickets and details:

Tickets and details: Book here.

Captivate Theatre links

Twitter: @Captivate_LTD
Facebook: @captivatetheatre
Instagram @captivatetheatre


The 2023 cast of Sunshine on Leith from Captivate Theatre. Pic: Captivate



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Comments (3)

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  1. William Fox says:

    Performance of Sunshine on Leith at Bijou theatre this afternoon was absolutely brilliant. Good acting and singing from several members of the cast. Thoroughly enjoyed the show.

  2. Fiona Khadeir says:

    Absolutely fantastic cast in sunshine on leith. Singing superb. Overall a wonderful performance and really really enjoyed.

  3. Jane L says:

    Well done to all, thoroughly enjoyed the show.
    5 stars.

  4. Dawn says:

    Been to see many productions of Sunshine on Leith. This has to be the best! Singing and acting was amazing. Well done to the whole cast and crew. All the best with future productions and your training of future stars. Well done everyone!

  5. Caroline says:

    I saw this on the 19th August. Absolutely brilliant (and I don’t really like musicals). Hazel Beattie particularly was stunning as Jean, her rendition of Sunshine on Leith brought me to tears. Jessica Nolan also gets a mention from me as being outstanding in a brilliant cast.

  6. Jean and Per Thorolf Rohr says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed a brilliant performance. Thought the venue functioned well, liked that the actors appeared through the audience. The actors were believable in their roles. They did the Proclaimer`s songs justice.