100% Chance of Rain
Created by the company with monologue by Lou Stein
Chickenshed’s 100% Chance of Rain, with its cast in triple figures, gives us seven responses to the issue of mental illness that are linked by a monologue spoken by Belinda McGuirk as the therapist Liz Abulafia.
The performance is dance-led with a fine selection of music from the extended opening section of the Eurythmics' “Sweet Dreams” to the later distinctive rap lyrics of Professor Green’s “Today I Cried”.
Each section riffs on a different aspect of the issue drawing on the personal experiences of company members.
Sweet Dreams takes us to the secret tragedy of self harm. Head Above Water creates a pile of shoes while the numbers and age profile of suicide victims in 2017 are sung out. Kaleidoscope lets us glimpse the loneliness and isolation of single parents and the stigma they are sometimes forced to suffer. A voiceover reminds us that sometimes a two-parent family can be more troubled than a single parent family. This section includes the extraordinary harmonies of a small group standing to the back of the darkened stage singing acapella Amy Whitehouse’s “Back to Black”.
Particularly memorable is the section entitled She’s Leaving Home with its dance routine of suitcases and umbrellas as we hear the stories of female migrants. One describes the racism of South Africa as leading her to leave for England. An Irish woman talks about the difficulties of saying goodbye to her parents.
While the musical dance pieces concentrate on the expression of mental illness, the linking monologue points to ways of dealing with it. We hear about the pioneering art therapy work of Adrian Hill which has implications for therapy through theatre. And Liz Abulafia draws on the Greek story of Theseus escaping the labyrinth by the thread given to him by Ariadne to suggest we can follow the thread of our life back to the last safe place.
The choreography is always imaginative and, given the large cast, impressively organised. Some will especially like the dance formations of the section entitled 4% about online gaming, which includes the song “Insomnia” to illustrate the problem of sleeplessness facing many gamers. Others will prefer the epic complexity of the section Today I Cried which leads to a mass gathering finale in the song “I Can See Clearly Now”.