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David Alade - Sunny Side Up Interview

Smash-hit show Sunny Side Up returns to London and is making an exciting transfer to Soho Theatre this summer. This honest and poetic sold-out hit encapsulates the essence of inner- city London life, following the story of Peckham-born David looking back at his early life.

Written and performed by Black British Theatre Awards nominee for Best Actor and Best Playwright, David Alade (The Fisherman, National Tour; Still Up, Apple TV; Casualty, BBC; Documentary Now, Amazon Prime), this heartfelt coming of age story follows the journey of a young boy from his childhood innocence through to the tough transformation into manhood, all leading to the loss of his father, Sunny. Tackling themes of vulnerability and toxic ideals around manhood, this epic and lyrical show tells the captivating and honest story of how society shapes young Black boys into men.

Sunny Side Up is directed by Theatre Peckham’s Artistic Director Suzann McLean, who received an OFFIE Award nomination for the show in 2023, with sound design by Black British Theatre Awards nominated designer Rasaq Kukoyi adding another layer of depth and richness to the overall experience.

Sunny Side Up was first presented at the 2022 Peckham Fringe Festival where it played to sold-out audiences and later returned for a three-week run at Theatre Peckham in 2023. As the birthplace of new, alternative, and experimental performances Theatre Peckham continues to amplify diverse voices and Sunny Side Up stands as a testament to the power of storytelling that resonates with audiences of all backgrounds.

We caught up with David Alade ahead of the run at Soho Theatre.

Where did your arts career begin?
My career began at 19 years old, in 2016 when I first attended Identity Drama School; I always knew I wanted to act since I was a teenager but had no clue how to penetrate the industry until hearing about the drama school that originally opened for people of colour and decided my journey would start there.

David Alade. Photo by Yellowbelly Photo

Were there any people or performances that had a big impact on you?
Two performances that had a huge impact on me and the creation of Sunny Side Up were Misty by Arinze Kene and The Fishermen by Gbolohan Obisesan. I saw Misty in Trafalgar Studios in 2018 and was marvelled at how one man on stage could captivate and drag an audience on a journey as if he were a puppet master, the skill in the level of writing was something that genuinely lead me to one day wanting to write a one man show. The Fishermen was a show I performed in at Trafalgar Studios back in 2019, it was the first time I witnessed and was a part of a play that portrayed Nigerians on stage, speaking in their native language and accent’s, on the West End! This gave me the courage to know that not just our stories, but our parents’ stories could be told and there was an audience willing to receive them
What can you tell me about Sunny Side Up? Where did the inspiration for the piece come from?
My father had passed away the year before – 2018 – from cancer and various other illnesses and as life continued during my mourn, I was always on the search for a way to honour him, thus came the idea for Sunny Side Up.
My dad whose name is Sunday Alade, went by the nickname ‘Sunny’, and he was just that, a very light-hearted, funny individual, who went against the grain of a traditional African father, he coddled me and my siblings and was very in touch with his emotions as we would constantly witness him crying at sad scenes in movies. 
Sunny Side Up is a coming-of-age story, where we delve into the mind of David Alade in third person. We follow a character called ‘Lil D’ and explore upbringing, the challenges of nature vs. nurture as the teaching and guidance of his father is combatted with the temptation of his hometown in South-East London, Peckham. Ultimately leading up to the death of his father, Sunny. It’s a love letter to the past, growing up in this particular place, at this particular time with a particular bond between a father and his son.
It has been amazing to bring new life to the show now for the third time, taking it to a new playground, that being Soho Theatre, will bring this story to a new audience. The stage simply being a different size has also been a beautiful challenge in the rehearsal room as we rework a new set and figure ways to convey the story in a more intimate fashion.
How has your relationship with director Suzann McLean aided the experience?
My relationship with Suzann McLean has blossomed over the course of this journey, she connected with the work initially via her own bereavement of parents and has since fallen in love the play as if she wrote it. Her skill in the rehearsal room is something I could not do without as she has helped me really flesh out the script I wrote and convey the storytelling effectively. 

What do you hope an audience takes away from seeing Sunny Side Up?
I simply hope that people see a mirror in Sunny Side Up, a piece of their childhood, environments, homes, school, and maybe even the loss of a loved one and can take strength from knowing they’re not alone in their experiences.

Sunny Side Up plays at Soho Theatre from Tuesday 28th May until Saturday 1st June 2024. Tickets are available from

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