I WAS at the world premiere of Stephen Greenhorn’s much-loved Proclaimers musical Sunshine On Leith at the Dundee Rep theatre back in 2007. Full disclosure, dear reader, I didn’t like it much.

In fairness – as someone whose fairly eclectic musical tastes have never stretched to the oeuvre of the brothers Reid – the show wasn’t made for me. Nevertheless, as the Tayside audience gave the Rep’s ensemble a standing ovation, I was left feeling – in the words of the late, great Bill Hicks – as if I’d wandered into a Klan rally wearing a Boy George costume.

My issues with the show went beyond the obvious one (namely, that the soundtrack consists entirely of Proclaimers songs). In dramatic terms, I thought, the play was writing-by-numbers, a predictable and sentimental combination of soap opera and sitcom.

Hardly surprising, you might say, given that Greenhorn is the creator of long-running BBC Scotland soap River City. However, whilst Sunshine On Leith (which was, of course, adapted successfully for the big screen in 2013) is Greenhorn’s most popular stage work, it’s not a patch on his best play, Passing Places.

Seeing this new Pitlochry Festival Theatre/Capital Theatres (Edinburgh) co-production of the show, I find that my original objections still hold. Unlike musicals with entirely original music, in which the compositions are created to fit the narrative, shows like Sunshine On Leith (which start from a pre-existing set of songs) require the writer to build the story around the musical numbers.

Consequently, when former-soldiers Ally and Davy return from one of the UK’s ill-considered military adventures and get together with nurses Liz and Yvonne, you just know it’s only a matter of time before one (or both) of the guys will be proclaiming his romantic desire to “walk a thousand miles”. Likewise, when Liz, depressed by the neglected condition of the NHS, starts considering working abroad, one can hear Letter From America before the band has played the opening chords.

Co-directors Elizabeth Newman and Ben Occhipinti have fashioned a production that clicks along at a good pace, despite set designer Adrian Rees’s best efforts to derail the entire affair. A cumbersome and inflexible affair, the set consists of an awkwardly adjustable construction upon which sits an unlovely miniature model of central Edinburgh.

Add to that flooring that looks like a kitchen lino designed by some nursery kids with big pieces of coloured chalk and you have a real design disaster.

None of this makes life easy for the fine musicians (who are always on-stage and often integrated into the action) or a cast that boasts some fine performances. Alyson Orr is a particular stand-out as put-upon matriarch Jean (her singing of the show’s title track is worthy of the Hibs faithful on Cup Final day), as is musician and singer Anna Fordham.

Ultimately, like the Dundee Rep premiere 15 years ago, this production offers, first-and-foremost, a feelgood musical for fans of The Proclaimers. As the delighted ovation at Wednesday’s matinee attests, it succeeds entirely on that score.

Laurel And Hardy

From one popular classic of modern Scottish theatre to another as the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh revives Tom McGrath’s evergreen bio-play Laurel And Hardy. In Steven McNicoll (Oliver Hardy) and Barnaby Power (Stan Laurel), director Tony Cownie’s charming, perfectly paced production stars the original cast from the Lyceum’s 2005 premiere.

Superb comic actors both, McNicoll and Power bring their famous characters wonderfully to life as, from a corner of Heaven under decoration, the ghosts of Laurel and Hardy look back over their lives and careers. From Stan’s first efforts to breakthrough as a “boy comedian” in Glasgow, to Ollie’s tempestuous personal life (which was punctuated by divorces and almost consumed by gambling), McGrath’s beautifully wrought drama interweaves chronological biography with some of the duo’s most famous skits.

Accompanying the ghostly stars on piano is the equally ghoulish figure of Jon Beales. His face painted white, like his co-stars, Beales’s perfectly timed playing of a profusion of tunes (ranging from I Belong to Glasgow, to Laurel and Hardy’s unforgettable signature tune) is the mark of a consummate theatre musician.

Designer Neil Murray’s monochrome set is a joy, in both conceptual and utilitarian terms. Nodding to one of the duo’s most famous sketches (in which they play a pair of painters and decorators), it also alludes, in its simple monochrome, to the black and white cinema that made them famous.

McGrath’s play is nostalgic, without being saccharine, and genuinely dramatic in its storytelling. This is a lovely production of it, from start to enchantingly choreographed, delightfully danced comic conclusion.

Sunshine On Leith is at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh until June 18 (for further information, visit: capitaltheatres.com), then at Pitlochry Festival Theatre, June 24 to October 1 (pitlochryfestivaltheatre.com)

Laurel And Hardy is at the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh until June 25.

For further information, visit: lyceum.org.uk