Review: The Maddening Rain, Old Red Lion Theatre

“You think you can live by your own rules…”

Felix Scott, star of one man show The Maddening Rain, was apparently in Inception. I can’t say I noticed him but then I wasn’t looking out for him, IMDB says he was playing ‘businessman’ and looking back I think he was in the bar in the middle section of the whole dream sequence. But I did however recognise him from his numerous turns in the Tricycle’s Women, Power and Politics season of plays so was keen to see what move he made next.

The Maddening Rain is a monologue from Nicholas Pierpan, following the fortunes of a man who arrives in London from Leicester and is soon swept up into the cut-throat world of corporate finance with its endless chasing of women and profit. As the financial crisis hits the City though, we then see the impact of the global recession from a different perspective.

Director Matthew Dunster’s approach feels fairly minimal in that it is full of subtleties rather than grand statements, which works in some respects and not in other. The shifting mood lighting and muted soundscape were both really effective, but in not giving Scott much rein to move around, the production just feels too static too often.

Which is a shame, as Scott’s performance is often mesmerizingly good. Navigating his way through an unfriendly world, looking for money, hoping for love, our narrator treads the line of likeability and it is Scott’s affability that pulls you through, his impersonations of the people around him are often hilarious. But there’s not enough material for him to genuinely work with and get ‘into’, it ultimately feels quite self-conscious.

Maybe the problem is that this play has arrived too late on the stage here. We know the outcome before it starts so there’s no dramatic tension in that respect, but for a piece dealing with such a hot-topic issue, it tells us nothing new and provides no real insight into what it was like as we’re asked too often to sympathise with the narrator like he’s not truly of that world and so it negates even the chance that this is could be an insider’s view of what happened.

Running time: 80 minutes
Booking until 18th September

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