Come Rain or Come Shine review – a fine cast shines in Tim Finn’s goofy musical | australian theater

FForgive me for starting this review with a quote from a lousy movie – 500 Days of Summer – but while watching Come Rain or Come Shine, I remembered this line: “It’s not because she likes the same weird shit as you your soulmate.” Because the Melbourne Theater Company’s new musical is about a friendship born of a mutual love for the Great American Songbook – and not much else.

Here’s the gist: Old souls Ray (Angus Grant) and Emily (Gillian Cosgriff) bonded at college in the 1970s over their shared obsession with Ray Charles and Sarah Vaughan. Ray’s dropkick roommate Charlie (Chris Ryan) doesn’t care about music, much preferring sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. But it’s Charlie who marries Emily, both becoming boring corporate types, while Ray lives an eternal wandering adolescence as an ESL teacher in Spain.

The three remain connected through the decades. But when Ray comes back to visit, Charlie has a favor to ask him: there’s trouble in heaven, and he thinks Emily will fall in love with him again if she sees how great he is compared to their old pal. pathetic. Would he mind playing it to save their marriage?

“The chemistry between Grant and the eminently likeable Cosgriff is palpable.” Photography: Jeff Busby

The second release from the team behind the hugely successful Ladies in Black (director Simon Phillips, writer Carolyn Burns and composer and lyricist Tim Finn), Come Rain or Come Shine is a faithful adaptation of the comic novel by the same name of Kazuo Ishiguro in 2009. . For a story written by a Japanese-British, it’s a terribly white middle-class affair, zooming in on the problems of three not particularly interesting people who profess their deep friendship that, to viewers, seems paper thin. Not to mention a touch of fragile masculinity to boot, as Ray and Charlie conspire to essentially turn on Emily – the only female character whose depth is slowly revealed through her unhappy relationships with these needy and hopeless men. What’s supposed to be absurd realism unfolds like a confusing and confusing comedy of errors.

The musical does itself a disservice by relying, plot-wise, so heavily on timeless standards because the original songs instantly fall flat in comparison. Songs aren’t bad as long as they’re unforgettable; many of them serve as character expositions, sometimes superimposed on dueling matches à la Les Miserables, but none are particularly inspiring. The score, performed by a three-piece live band, has some brilliant moments, like a buildup of suspense when Ray, spotting Emily’s diary on the kitchen table, ponders whether or not to read it. But the liveliest musical moments are those punctuated by the characters’ favorite music, played on a turntable to the right of the stage.

Still, the cast does a good job with an awkward script and story. The chemistry between Grant and the eminently likeable Cosgriff is palpable, especially during a charming dream sequence where the two enthusiastically riff on a medley of classic songs such as Blue Moon and What a Wonderful World. The three actors play both their teenager and their 40-year-old with aplomb – Ryan convinces as both a sleazy teenager and an awkward adult – aided by Sophie Woodward’s era-specific costumes, which are particularly adorable on Cosgriff.

MTC production of Come Rain or Come Shine, Melbourne, Australia 2022
The versatile Angus Grant as Ray and Chris Ryan as Charlie. Photography: Jeff Busby

Like Ray, Grant is particularly versatile. Some of his crazy scenes in the back half are funny, whether he’s tearing up a beanbag with his teeth or trying to recreate the smell of a dog cooking spices in a pan with an old boot (better don’t ask). It has the most enchanted audience, easily going from raucous slapstick to solemn pathos.

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The production’s most impressive work is found in Dale Ferguson’s mesmerizing set design, which transforms the stage into various houses by means of sliding rooms. From a 1970s college flatshare and a Spanish bachelor pad, to a swanky one-bedroom London apartment, functional kitchen and sleek living room, airport and restaurant, the agility of the scenography brings every decor to life. seamlessly, feeling almost like magic. The group is obscured as silhouettes in an apartment window above – a nice touch adding a touch of cosmopolitan flair.

Come Rain or Come Shine doesn’t end with a bang but a moan, as the characters realize some big truths about friendship and aging, or something like that. With some moments of great humor and good performances, it’s a pretty entertaining way to spend a few hours, if not underwhelming given its team’s pedigree. But the story itself is the oldest in the book: a few privileged bores moaning about their mundane midlife crises. In other words, much ado about nothing.

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