The Maddening Rain got its first outing at the New Red Lion Theatre last year, and now this intense one man show is back for a short run in Soho.
Felix Scott is fantastic as the narrator / main character, maintaining a monologue for a full hour and 20 minutes, snapping in and out of other characters, emotions and accents with a turn of his head. One moment he's boiling with rage, the next brimming with tears, the next displaying some expert comic timing; in the low-ceilinged, claustrophobic space that feels like the Soho Theatre's attic, it's a powerful experience.
Next to such a performance the actual play, by Nicholas Pierpan, is something of a letdown. Our protagonist is an ordinary guy, bit of a geezer, drifting in and out of dull jobs until he lucks his way into a trading floor and an Oxbridge girlfriend. Then comes the crash, the backstabbing and a weird climactic sequence that feels out of kilter with the heart of the play — which is actually about class warfare and his failure to connect with anyone. But we came away wondering why we were meant to care, and that the City storyline is more of a distraction than a help. (If you're expecting Enron or The Power of Yes, may we recommend you try the National Theatre bookshop?)
We agree with the Independent's review of the previous production:
Isn't it really a radio play, or a novel-in-progress? More startling observations and narrative momentum are needed.
and hesitated before showing you this trailer for the play — it doesn't come anywhere near the vigour of the live performance — but it's neat little intro and you can at least get some idea of Scott's twinkly charm.
The Maddening Rain runs at the Soho Theatre on Dean Street, W1, until 10th December, 7.45pm. Tickets are £15. We saw this show on a press ticket.