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Rain, by Titirangi Theatre

Sat 25 Jun 2005 In: Performance

Rain by John Colton and Clemence Randolph (adapted from Somerset Maugham's short story "Sadie Thompson") Titirangi Drama Lopdell House, Auckland, until 2 July Our very own Bishop Brian is strutting his stuff up at Lopdell House in a timely and thoughtful production of Rain. Of course, he's called the Rev Alfred Davidson, but that's about the only difference I could recognise. You see, the Rev Davidson knows all about sin and sinners and who has to be punished and how they should be punished and how much God loves them for enjoying their punishment and - well, sound familiar? Liz Watkinson, the director, has obviously spotted the contemporary relevance of Somerset Maugham's famous short story, dramatised here by John Colton and Clemence Randolph. Everything old is new again - and the story of a single woman trying to survive on her own (her brave catch phrase is 'I can look after myself') proves just as potent now as it did back in the 1920s. In the role made famous by Joan Crawford, Katherine Parkes is by turns touching and tough. Her final entrance, in her delicious candy pink flapper dress with doilies attached, had me wanting to stamp my feet and cheer, but the matinee audience demanded quiet respect and knowing chuckles at most. Perhaps she could have seemed a bit more 'doped' in the opening scene of the second half, but she brought with her an authentic 'jazz baby' flair that added much to the period feel of the piece. No way was she ever going to be phased by all that pithy, delightful slang! As Dr McPhail, the voice of reason, Denys Hoskins was a charmer (well, he did have all those wonderfully witty aphorisms to say), while Jenny Lewis as Mrs Davidson was suitably irritating. But the writers allowed her a touching moment of self-realisation, too. Joe Horn was an alternative voice of reason - 'Let's all go native' - played with warmth and maturity by Brendan Smith, while Kavali Sosisi and Fa'amalu Malepe added a true local note to the Pago Pago landscape. Colin Minney, as Sergeant O'Hara, brought an authentic masculinity to the procedings, and C. J. Shelford as the Rev Davidson was so sincere it was spooky! That he had a warm and winning voice and was easy on the eye didn't fail to help either. If the large cast didn't quite pull off the abrupt final scene perhaps this was because the writers had to be so careful way back then about what they showed and what they suggested on and off stage. And of course if the Rev Davidson, sorry, I mean Bishop Brian, has his way, we will all have to become very careful all over again about what we can and can't show and tell about life on and off the wicked stage ... John Curry - 25th June 2005    

Credit: John Curry

First published: Saturday, 25th June 2005 - 12:00pm

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