Joe (Anthony Crank) and Shelley (Danielle Henry) are a classic mismatched couple. Separated by race, age and sexual orientation. Joe is fastidious to the point of obsession and Shelly is sloppy. She believes in ghosts and the value of spiritual healing and he is a rationalist.
A tragedy leaves Joe in physical pain and suffering from psychological problems of obsessive- compulsive disorder and agoraphobia. His cheerful neighbour Shelley, who is conducting an affair with a married man, enlivens his lonely existence. The odd couple form a suitably strange relationship but a drunken evening means that there is a risk they could become more than friends.
Joanne Sherryden writes lively, very funny dialogue and creates lovable characters. Which is just as well because there isn’t much of a plot. The developments that can occur in such an enclosed environment are limited and very easy to anticipate. Much depends, therefore, upon the chemistry between the actors and whether the situations convince.
Director Adam Zane creates a warm atmosphere in which the cast clearly feel at home so that the development of their friendship rings true. Joe could easily become irritating with his obsessive needs yet Crank ensures that Joe has a degree of self-awareness that makes him vulnerable rather than just needy and self-pitying.
Henry brings such vitality to the role of Shelly that she lifts the character away from the potential rut of a good time girl towards the type of life force that Joe needs to shake him out of his apathy. The actors have an easy, casual air that suggests the comfortable status of their characters. They even manage to sound convincing with the conclusion which features comments so close to trite that they would not be out of place on a Hallmark card.
The Rainbow Connection is a light but very funny look at an unconventional relationship.
- Dave Cunningham