Theatre Review - Standing at the Sky’s Edge

Lauryn Redding and Laura Pitt-Pulford [Brinkhoff-Moegenburg]

ORIGINALLY written as a love letter to Sheffield, this bittersweet musical, set in the city’s architectural landmark, the Park Hill estate, celebrates the importance of community.

Standing at the Sky’s Edge traces some of the social issues that have shaped Sheffield (and Britain) today – the decline of industry, Thatcher’s crushing of the unions, Brexit, refugees and gentrification. We follow three different generations of residents, their stories cleverly interwoven on stage by Chris Bush.

Newlyweds, Rose (Rachael Wooding) and Harry (Joel Harper-Jackson) move there in the 1960s. They arrive on a wave of hope with Harry proud to be the youngest foreman at the local steel plant.

In the 1980s, three refugees from Liberia, are warned to keep their door locked at all times. Although the estate is riven by anti-social behaviour and vandalism, Joy (Elizabeth Ayodele) manages to fall for friendly neighbour Jimmy (Samuel Jordan). By 1989 most flats in the estate are empty.

In 2015, the block, now a Grade-II listed building, is being redeveloped. Middle-class Poppy (Laura Pitt-Pulford) moves from London and buys a newly refurbished flat. She is pursued by her former fiancé Nikki (Lauryn Redding) who believes they still have a future together.

Featuring the back catalogue of legendary Sheffield singer-songwriter Richard Hawley, the range of music is superb and brilliantly executed by a tight ensemble. Some of the lyrics may be little trite, but the choral numbers really soar.

Director Robert Hastie leads an impressive creative team. Ben Stones’ set and costumes are terrific and beautifully utilised by the cast and band.

Although occasionally soapish, Bush wisely steers clear of a sentimental ending.


Until August 3

Orignally published by Camden New Journal