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Grupo XIX De Teatro: Memoria Da Chuva (Manchester)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Memories of the Rain is collaboration between the Contact Young Actors Company from Manchester and Grupo XIX de Teatro from Sao Paulo in Brazil. Under the direction of Rodolfo Amorim (who also constructed the script) the play explores common features of the two cultures. These amount to industry and rain.

In the cobbled area outside the 1830 Warehouse we are invited to record our memories of rain in ways that are poetic or humorous This is interrupted by a couple of Mancunians who make clear that rain is neither of these things but is simply a bloody nuisance.

It is a shame that this mixture of the lyrical and the profane is not maintained throughout the show. At times the interpretation of the theme becomes a bit too literal and we are force-fed statistics on acid rain and mortality rates in the industrial revolution.

This draws attention to the age of the performers – ranging from 15 to 25 – by giving the impression that some educational element is necessary for the play to succeed. It also highlights a weakness of the company. Although comfortable on-stage the performers' ability to communicate through movement is not matched by their verbal skills. Sadly, the point of some of the sequences is muted as we struggle to hear what is being said.

When is stops trying so hard, the play works better.Subtler similarities are drawn between the two cultures – each has a version of the story of Noah’s Ark. The show has elements that are both charming and disturbing. A couple bonds over the need to find water for a struggling goldfish – which is then forgotten in the face of their growing attraction. In the powerful closing sequence a child’s skipping rope gradually transforms into a sinister loom menacing the workforce

 It is appropriate that Memories of the Rain does not really tell us anything new but rather gives us a different perspective on familiar objects.

-Dave Cunnngham


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