When It Rains, 2 Stars

GREENSIDE @ Nicholson Square, Lime Studio
til 12th August

“From the writer of 2019’s acclaimed Butterflies (‘playwright to watch’ (FringeReview.co.uk)) and 2022’s I Can’t Hear You (Standing Ovation Award Nominee) comes a thrilling and humorous exploration of 21st-century masculinity. Written following extensive workshops with its young cast, When It Rains is a physical and fast-paced vision of a world where the youth are losing hope. With razor-sharp dialogue, memorable characters, and bold physicality, When It Rains speaks in an urgent new voice, one which demands to be heard.”

Review by Richard Lambert, 2 Stars

A cast of 11 young male actors perform this piece at 10:15 in the morning, a slot usually booked by family shows. This is hardly a family show with themes of toxic masculinity, bullying, and a modern day Lord of the Flies story. The concept that we live under curfew and that our rain, normally hydrating and nourishing, has turned into acid rain, does not feel so far-fetched.

The writing allows everyone to have a speaking part with repetitive pick-ups from one actor to another. A perfect script as a vehicle when everyone in a drama group must have a participating role. The general timing came across as very well rehearsed.

Despite various degrees of acting ability and vocal projection, the story does land well. The leader of the gang initally very believable and realistically portrayed but then he has a 180 degree turn of attitude for no obvious reason. That does come across as a little strange and the gang leadership takeover happens without contest.

The direction needs development – the journey across the dump, under the tunnels and through the woods straight from Drama 101. It did feel rather like they were demonstrating an exercise in breaking down normative barriers at drama school rather than a theatrical piece.

The strong element of the show is the technical. Good content and cueing for lights and sound throughout.

For youth theatre, the show is very engaging, relying heavy on an interesting concept and a couple of stand-out performers.