Dedicated follower of The Kinks or not, this foot-tapping show will have you singing along to the songs
Richard-Barber-176The Beatles were bigger, The Stones noisier, but almost everyone has a special place in their heart for The Kinks. Here was the authentic voice of London in the 1960s, with Ray Davies’s ironic, iconic songwriting skills embracing something quintessentially English in a string of hits from You Really Got Me and Dedicated Follower Of Fashion to Waterloo Sunset and the hauntingly beautiful Days.

Now comes Sunny Afternoon, the story of four Muswell Hill lads who carved out their own idiosyncratic niche in modern pop culture. But this is so much more than mere hagiography, just as, between the hits, Jersey Boys so effectively dishes up the sometimes less-than-edifying story of The Four Seasons.

Davies himself provided the original story, from which Joe Penhall has crafted the book. Originally seen at Hampstead, where it was perhaps a bit rougher round the edges (no bad thing), Sunny Afternoon, complete with a catwalk extending halfway into the stalls, hits the ground running. Ray, played to dreamy perfection by a gangling John Dagleish, is working the posh supper circuit with his group, The Ravens: brother Dave (George Maguire), guitarist Pete Quaife (Ned Derrington) and drummer Mick Avory (Adam Sopp, no mean drummer himself).

What’s particularly impressive, their acting skills aside, is that here are four young men who can sing and play their instruments so well they really do sound like The Kinks.

Amid the moments of magic matched by vicious rows and fallings-out with the money men, it’s often very funny. Wild man Dave, capable (quite literally) of swinging from the chandelier, is exasperated when his brother can’t shake himself out of a deep depression. ‘Keith Moon just bought ’imself a brand-new Bentley,’ he says of The Who’s tearaway drummer, ‘and drove it into his swimming pool. What’ve you done lately?’

There’s a strong ensemble cast: Philip Bird, when not playing an assortment of instruments, is the brothers’ downtrodden dad as well as cigar-chewing American music manager Allen Klein; Ben Caplan (Miranda Hart’s husband in Call The Midwife) essays a multiplicity of roles convincingly; and Lillie Flynn makes a touching fi st of portraying Ray’s Lithuanian wife, Rasa.

In the end, though, it’s the music that carries the day. I shan’t easily forget men (and women) in the autumn of their years on their feet and punching the air as we all sang along to Lola. Lovely, lovely stuff .

Booking until 23 May 2015 at the Harold Pinter Theatre, 6 Panton Street, London SW1: 020-7400 1257,