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Fridays, When It Rains
Published on Wednesday, 19 May 2010

With this play, Iambic Arts promised a chilling ghost story and a psychological drama. I certainly didn’t walk into an eerie atmosphere: the theatre was cosy, and a warm Friday-night buzz of anticipation pervaded as attendees brought glasses of wine to their seats, all of which were taken. But suspense was generated by the stage set being hidden from audience view by black drapes, and I looked forward to being drawn in, ‘riveted and fascinated’.

Some opening tension was created by our narrator, who revealed under spotlight that he had been spying upon the other main character, Connie – his admission being effectively replicated by our view of her on a screen to the side. Connie was filmed searching her way through dark wet streets, finally reaching the station only just in time to catch the last train. Five or ten minutes in, and far from holding my breath, I was only too conscious of the discomfort in my back where it pressed against the hard chair. Still, at this point the set still loomed ominous in the gloom – and I knew that the deliverance of evil remained a possibility.

But to my surprise, when the lights went up, they revealed a lavish railway carriage. My breath was taken away not by heightened tension but by the sumptuous golden upholstery upon which Connie – in beautiful 1940s woollen suit – now lounged, not a hair out of place despite having lost her way in the rain late on a dark night. In the circumstances she might have been expected to be seated in stifling proximity to her travelling companion, our narrator, who was himself reminiscent of an eccentric country gent as opposed to the harbinger of danger. But there was a gulf of floor space between them, more fitting of a lounge than a railway carriage; their ensuing conversation was credible, but no chilling drama.

This production failed to deliver on its promise. The story was in my view weak, but in any case I saw no real adaptation from its origins as a radio play; the characters did very little except have a conversation. The lavish set was unnecessary and wasted on this play and, with little opportunity to show off dramatic prowess, our characters were too well-dressed and too tame. At the end, I wasn’t the only one who was unsure whether it had indeed finished; which I’m afraid speaks only too loudly for the story’s climax.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Brighton 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.