This image -Jack Twelvetree and Taylor Reece                                                                                                           Featured image – Nicholas Thoroughgood and Cassie McLean.
Photo – Riley McLean

I Hope It’s Not Raining in London by Nicholas Thoroughgood,  Bearfoot Theatre.

First up, eighteen year old Nicholas Thoroughgood’s I HOPE IT’S NOT RAINING IN LONDON put me in mind of the plays from the Absurdist group of playwrights – Beckett, Albee, Pinter and so on.

Two people trapped in a room. One is almost finished but the other is not yet ready. The other will be ready, but just not yet.

The roots of Absurdism are the held in the principles that we are isolated existents – we are born, we live, we die. Along the way we form loving, often dysfunctional co-dependent relationships that cause combinations of deep emotional pain, joy, a sense of belonging and/or give purpose and relevance to our existence.

I HOPE IT’S NOT RAINING IN LONDON is more than that though. In the absence of a better description, it’s contemporary, hybrid and experimental in its exploration of our perceived realities and the effects of trauma.

Nicholas Thoroughgood has crafted a structurally sound and sophisticated short play (60 minutes in length) that places 2 strangers in a room that contains a chest with “everything you need in it” and a chair. One has been in the space for a while, reading, and is initially a mentor for the newly arrived Other.

The first realisation is that for Other all memories are gone. The ability to talk and function is there, but nothing else. Neither of them has knowledge of where they are currently existing and how they got there. However, boxes containing random objects are thrust into the room and these serve to trigger memories and gradually their significant life stories are remembered and painfully told, with re-enactments.

At other times meaningful, and occasionally humorous, conversations are held while simple card games are being played, physical capabilities are tested, and bodies are cleansed. It’s redolent with symbolism.

The four actors for this production, Cassie Hamilton, Nicholas Thoroughgood, Jack Twelvetree and Taylor Reece, rotate in the roles, with different combinations for each of the performances. Nicholas and Jack are Other while Cassie and Taylor portray One.

There’s a wonderful extra nuance in that the performances are in an old church, now in commission as Tantrum Theatre’s new space. It’s perfect, albeit a bit chilly this time of year – great acoustics with the delightful ambience that experimental and innovative theatre needs and the capacity to be set however you like.

Nicholas had initially envisioned the play being performed on a small proscenium arch. However, for this production, director Riley McLean has chosen to pop a white plastic covered low platform traverse stage right in the middle of the floor space. The white plastic makes sense later in the production. The lighting is incredibly simple yet highly effective – predominately some bedside lamps set at actor’s hip height.

For each performance the two actors not playing One and Other serve as Caroline and Mickey (people of significance to One and Other) and also perform ritualistic stage management and lighting duties; making SFX, shining torches onto One and Other’s faces, covering the lamps with a red gel, throwing on the boxes and other props and so on. It’s very intimate, stylised and oddly effective.

The soundtrack and SFX, designed by Edward Garven and Nicholas Thoroughgood is also very atmospheric and assists in contributing to a roller coaster of emotional moments. Love the 1950’s music.

I do enjoy and appreciate the creativity of contemporary hybrid theatre and I HOPE IT’S NOT RAINING IN LONDON is a terrific example of the new directions all the theatre influences are creating. It’s exciting when genre is thrown away and stories are being presented using whatever suits the narrative and the creative stimulus. Nicholas states that he wanted to give “a director complete artistic freedom, break the concepts of gender normality in theatre and take a retrospective look at life from those who are no longer fully involved.”

Bearfoot Theatre is a new company of award winning young theatre practitioners who are carving out their own paths and creating original, interesting and experimental work from the ground up with no rules. Their mission statement is to produce solely original works of theatre, which convey important, relevant social messages and give a voice to young artists. 

Gotta love that!

Bearfoot Productions [Facebook]  I HOPE IT’S NOT RAINING IN LONDON plays at Tantrum Studios, 101 City Road, Merewether. (Newcastle area).   Bookings at Trybooking.   IN LONDON is being presented at Tantrum Studio 101 City Road, Merewether

2pm and 7pm Thursday 19 – Saturday 21 July.  Tickets, $28, concession $25, can be bought through trybooking.com, with that website noting the actors in each performance.