Standing at the Sky’s Edge is a musical set in the iconic Sheffield housing estate, Park Hill. All the music and lyrics are written by Richard Hawley and the book is by Chris Bush. A moving, funny, and poignant exploration of home and love.
Standing at the Sky’s Edge centres on three families who all inhabit the same flat during different decades. At its core, is the question of what makes a home. During the musical, a character says “it’s four walls and a box” but that box has people. Using the context of the social and political climate it shows how spaces come to life.
The first part of the musical is the longest. It is required because it contextualises the issues, and the political unrest. Much of the first half is dedicated to showing how the different families come in and out of the space and how they each make it their own. The other issue this musical faced is where to insert the interval. I think they got it right in the placement so that the second half, whilst shorter starts on an upbeat note.
What stands out is the examination of humanity. Often when we look at a home, we pay little thought to those who inhabit it. However, the political situation impacts on relationships, people, desires, love, hate etc. This musical looks at all of that as well as the economics of what the home is through the working class family, the immigrant family from Africa, and the rich migrant from London. Without a doubt, the vulnerability of men is laid bare in this musical, as all the male characters were impacted the most. The real survivors are the women, it feels like an ode to women.
Do take some tissues, Jimmy and Joy is all I will say.
Even for a non musical fan such as myself, I loved it and if I had time would see it again but alas.
Standing at the Sky’s Edge runs at the National Theatre in London until the 25 March and is 2 hours 50 mins long including an interval.