Penelope Skinner’s The Sound of Heavy Rain is an odd little play: a high camp, high octane Agatha Christie, with a few moments of gritty, cop-drama realism thrown in for good measure.
Plain Maggie Brown hires the services of Private Investigator Dabrowski to help track down her missing friend – the glamorous and mysterious cabaret singer Foxie O’Hara. Meanwhile, an unassuming man (Graham) confesses to an empty chair he calls Michael, whilst dragging round a bag “as big as a human body”. As expected, all is not what it seems.
From the crudely painted pool of blood centre stage to the all-singing finale, the piece is knowingly ridiculous. However, to make a real virtue of this, the parodic tone needs to be pushed much further, and whether this is a fault of the script or the direction is unclear.
The acting is varied. Andrew Sheridan is not quite strong enough to hold the show together in the central role of Dabrowski, but Alistair Cope provides a beautifully toned performance as Graham and Kate O’Flynn has a captivating presence and a fine voice with which to perform O’Hara’s fantasy cabaret numbers.
Whilst the overall result is moderately entertaining, one is left a little empty by the sum of its parts and there is little sense that this playwright has anything particularly important to say through her piece.
The Paines Plough/Sheffield Theatres Roundabout Season has proved a mixed success, with neither Skinner’s nor Nick Paine’s (One Day When We Were Young) plays providing anything like the raw material of Duncan Macmillan’s stunning Lungs. This combined with Lungs superior casting and direction makes it by far the highest point of an otherwise rather average foray into theatre-in-the-round.