England, Europe and Middle East, London, Trip Reviews, United Kingdom

Standing At The Sky’s Edge Reviewed. A Love Letter To Sheffield

13/03/2024 by .
Standing At The Sky’s Edge

Andy Mossack watches Standing at the Sky’s Edge, an award-winning musical making its West End debut.

Standing at the Sky’s Edge comes with an impressive reputation.

Premiering at Sheffield’s Crucible in 2019 before moving to the National and now debuting at the Gillian Lynne Theatre, it won ‘Best Musical Production’ at the UK Theatre Awards in 2019. a South Bank Sky Arts Award for Theatre in 2020, and ‘Best New Musical’ at the 2023 Olivier Awards. It has also recently been awarded a ‘Made in Sheffield’ moniker, the first time a theatre production has received such an honour.

Not bad going for a musical story about a Sheffield housing estate.

Then again, Sheffield has its fair share of musical heroes. Joe Cocker, The Arctic Monkeys, Pulp, Paul Carrack, and of course, legendary singer songwriter Richard Hawley, whose 2012 album Standing at the Sky’s Edge, provides the musical backdrop for the show.

Standing At The Sky’s Edge

Named after Skye Edge, a hillside area with views over the city centre and once known for its dubious housing estates, one of which – Park Hill – provides the canvas for this production. Ironically it now has Grade II listed status, has featured in TV dramas and song lyrics and divides opinion with city residents.

Once dubbed ‘Sheffield’s most unlikely pop star’ Richard Hawley has struck gold with this Love letter to Sheffield, the perfect platform to illustrate his personal musical take on lives and communities in his home city.

Written by Chris Bush, herself a Sheffielder, Standing at the Sky’s Edge is a tale of the intersecting stories of three families who are residents of the same top floor Park Hill Estate flat between 1960 and 2021. Perhaps inspired by the famous Hollywood movie Plaza Suite. There’s Rose and steel worker husband Harry, Joy the young Liberian refugee living with her aunt and cousin, and modern-day lesbian Poppy and her girlfriend Nikki. All three families blend on stage seamlessly even though they are in different eras. And the whole company share terrific vocals, shamelessly belting out a rock score as and when necessary.

Standing At The Sky’s Edge

Standing At The Sky’s Edge

The set created by Ben Stones is simple yet insanely clever. The towering blocks of the estate the backdrop (where the fantastic band resides) while the flat’s interior remains unchanged throughout. There are clever little references to the kitchen sink, taps, and fridge which start out as cutting edge for the earliest family and simple utilities for the others. Even the spicy sauce makes its way from family to family and era to era, woven in during a scene when all three residents in different years are in the kitchen having a meal.

This is unashamedly a love letter to Sheffield. Created originally for the Sheffield community and now shared with the rest of Britain, it is a thought-provoking journey through a city’s political history. The bricks and mortar of a housing estate managing to echo the lives of its former occupants.

Images (C) Jason-Lowe and Brinkhoff-Moegenburg.

Tell me more about Standing at the Sky’s Edge

Standing at the Sky’s Edge runs until 3rd August 2024 at the Gillian Lynne Theatre 166 Drury Lane London WC2B 5PW.

Tickets:   From £20 Box Office:   Book via www.lwtheatres.co.uk Tel: 020 3925 2998  (lines open Monday to Saturday 10am – 5:30pm)   Or book via www.nationaltheatre.org.uk T: 020 7452 3000 (lines open Monday to Saturday 9:30am – 8pm)



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *