★★★★ | Standing at the Sky’s Edge
Standing on the Sky’s Edge is a new musical which centres around Sheffield’s Park Hill Flats housing estate, and cleverly overlays three stories of three families over three decades as they take residence in the now infamous building. From the ground breaking optimism of the buildings with “streets in the sky” in the early 70s; through the estates decline in the 80s and 90s and onto the current regeneration projects, the show delicately weaves the lives of the seemingly unconnected families together whilst looking at the social and economic changes faced by the city and its residents.
Richard Hawley (known for his music with The Longpigs and Pulp) provide a mixture of new and old songs which melt seamlessly into the narrative and which are well spaced, well performed and slot nicely into the proceedings; whilst Chris Bush’s script is warm, witty and brims with northern charm and humour.
But mostly, and at the show’s heart, are stories about love and how it can be tested in so many different ways; wrapped up in a love letter to any building which you can call home and to the city itself. A husband who has given up, and a wife who won’t; a young couple who face tragedy and a young woman trying to break free of the ghost of girlfriends past all address the central issues with genuine emotion and a warmth radiating from the stage.
The production is instantly accessible, with characters that feel familiar almost immediately, and some fast paced and assured direction from Robert Hastie, providing a feel of the business and hustle and bustle of the estate. The ensemble cast blend beautifully together as the years portrayed merge into one; and Faith Omole took everyone by surprise with a singing voice so serene, it quite literally stopped the show.
Despite being a very local piece of theatre, there is enough in there to entertain those unfamiliar with the flats or its history; and makes the trip to Sheffield worthwhile, and being home the message, loudly and clearly, that home is where the heart really is.
Standing on Sky’s Edge is at Sheffield Theatres until 6th April 2019.