The Same Rain That Falls On Me
Student Alice (sole performer Ella McKeown) is returning home from university for the worse possible reason: to attend the bedside of her terminally ill father. A traumatic experience is made worse by lingering unspoken familial tensions—Alice perceives she is not her mother’s favourite child and cannot resist responding to what she sees as unfair criticism.
The set-up for The Same Rain That Falls On Me seems to demand full-on melodrama yet the distinguishing feature of the production is restraint. Director Jay Seldon sets a natural pace; one could not say the tone is relaxed but it is realistic. The warm intimacy draws in the audience making us Alice’s confidant or therapist willing to listen as she unburdens herself of anger and resentment.
It is a pleasure to listen. Ella McKeown is an appealing protagonist making Alice confident enough to be critical of her tutor but still so insecure as to wish her father could put things right as he has in the past. It is a moving performance capturing the weariness and confusion that comes from caring for someone with a long-term illness. McKeown allows us to glimpse, but not wallow in, Alice’s anguish and share her anger at a parent who refused to listen to medical advice.
The script by Logan Jones is well-observed and true to life. There is the strange embarrassment that comes from sharing bad news with a colleague. Alice and her mother circle each other like wary gunfighters, each aware this is not the moment for a confrontation and struggling to moderate their responses. The ways in which people try and distract themselves from grief is reflected in Alice’s misplaced anger at the good weather and the activities of Extinction Rebellion. Jones does not clumsily verbalise developments but trusts the audience to fill in any gaps. The description of the warm maternal welcome received by Alice’s brother helps to explain Alice’s tense relationship with their mother.
The restrained approach taken in The Same Rain That Falls On Me ensures the emotional impact of this fine play is all the more powerful.
Reviewer: David Cunningham