Wet Weather Cover

Oliver Cotton

Arts Theatre

(2010)

Review by Simon Sladen

There's no business like showbusiness, or so they say. Making a film may appear glamorous, with reports of the top stars demanding velvet cushions and puppies, but Oliver Cotton's Wet Weather Cover depicts the harsh reality of shooting on location.

Steve Furst and Michael Brandon play two actors stuck up in a trailer whilst they wait to be called for their scene. Taking shelter in a caravan reminiscent of a 1950s holiday park, the two actors get talking whilst the rain falls and falls and it seems unlikely that the two will ever escape the constant pitter patter against the decrepit roof.

Brandon plays Brad, an American actor, bold, brash and hot headed. Furst's character, Stuart, is quintessentially English, meek, polite and somewhat sloth-like due to a combination of boredom and tiredness. The enclosed space of the leaking caravan provides the perfect vehicle for a clash of cultures and personalities in a play that trundles along nicely and manages to pack in a plethora of observations about the industry in just under ninety minutes.

Arguments over billing, a book on the death of Marlowe, the existence and importance of Shakespeare and attacks on Hollywood itself form part of the play's proceedings and at times Wet Weather Cover feels like an episode of Extras, even though the original production premiered in Los Angeles in 1999, predating the sitcom by six years.

Cotton's humorous script clearly plays upon his own experience as an actor and has some witty moments, accentuated by Kate Fahy in her directorial debut. Through her direction Fahy demonstrates that Brad and Stuart never really grew up, arguing over trivialities, throwing tantrums and constantly trying to trump each other like children in the playground. They fall out over the smallest of things, but in the end they always kiss and make up and the game of friendship begins all over again.

Much of the comedy arises out of clichés and stereotypes, none more so than pink shirt and denim hotpant wearing Pepe, the camp dresser played by Pepe Balderrama, who pouts and struts across the stage, firing Spanish from his mouth like a round of bullets. What Balderrama demonstrates in his delivery is that in acting, facial expression, tone, pace and rhythm are most important; words assist in understanding, but are not totally necessary and can in fact tell quite a different story to that which the face is telling.

With fine performances from Brandon and Furst, what better way to escape those terrible April showers this spring than by visiting Wet Weather Cover at the Arts for a rare glimpse 'behind the scenes' in the glamorous world of entertainment?

Playing until 5th June 2010

Philip Fisher reviewed this production at the King's Head