Rain (1973)

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Poster by Poster Designer

by John Colton & Clemence Randolph from the short story by W. Somerset Maugham

Produced & Designed by Jill Clark

Performances: May 1973, Bell Theatre


Text about the play




"Performing in the Rain"

Maugham's Miss Sadie Thompson has become a byword for acting of the grand Hollywood school. The sluttish carouser who, marooned on a South Sea island in the rainy season, falls foul of a fanatical missionary, proved a natural for successive stars of the silver screen.

The adaptation for the stage, by John Cotton and Clemence Randolph, is aptly entitled "Rain", and in spite of its old-fashioned methods it packs some effective theatrical punches. Rain is indeed the metaphor for the claustrophobic entombment of the characters: drenching, torrential rain that seeps into the soul and stupefies the senses.

The play is about what Dr MacPhail calls "the moment of ultimate pressure". It is the moment which finally cracks the rigid facade of the Rev Davidson, who wrestles for Sadie's soul, and commits suicide after succumbing to the desires of the flesh.

Jill Clark's production for the SLTC uses a grandly seedy set, and is soaked in splendid sound effects. Moreover, it includes one of the most bravura performances seen at the centre.

I refer to Amaryllis Adams' interpretation of Sadie, a piece of audacious theatricality that transcends the tawdry plot, passing from brazen tart to vulnerable and frightened girl to the zombie stare of the converted, with a swift reversion to type for the final curtain.

Here we see art rising triumphant over mere tricks. But the occasion of such a transformation, the Rev. Davidson, must be seen to be entirely plausible, Colm O'Neill plays the role with strength and some passion, but somehow I feel he lacks the evangelistic horse-power to convince us entirely of his domination.

There are some sluggish patches in the production, and a sense of punches being pulled in purple places. Pam Lyne is a little too quiet and complacent as the tight-lipped Mrs Davidson, and Tom Swann could urge the doctor's humanist case with more fire, though his patent decency carries its own quiet charge.

The cheerful hedonism of the men is given good value, especially by Bernard Bullbrook (Sgt O'Hara), while Arthur Skinner is a believable figure as the battered trader Joe Horn. There is a nicely judged birdlike quality about Jean Warboyes as the doctor's wife, and Edwin Stone is impressive as Quartermaster Bates.

On the whole, this is a production much to be recommended. It is workmanlike from start to finish, and Miss Adams confers much distinction on it.

Donald Madgwick, The Croydon Advertiser.


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