At first glance, A Clown Show About Rain appears to be just that – a clown show about the weather. As the show goes on and themes develop, however, it becomes apparent that it is so much more than that. Using the rain as a metaphor for depression, this is a delicate and moving analysis of mental health and the ways in which it can affect our lives. Through almost entirely physical theatre, the cast is able to depict the struggles of one person against the unpredictable forces of depression and anxiety.
Devised by the company Silent Faces, the sound, design, and choreography of this piece literally take centre stage. Ellie Isherwood’s soundscape consists of the shipping forecast, thunderous storms and upbeat songs. Most of the sound in the play comes from a small radio which the characters use to predict the weather. In response to the radio, the characters dance, panic, or take shelter depending on the weather forecast. The choreography is beautiful and comedic, and the three Sailing Clowns (Josie Underwood, Cara Withers and Stella Kailides) are able to carry it out to perfection. Indeed, every member of the cast appears to have complete control over their bodies and faces, demonstrating that words are not always needed in order to express intricate emotions.
The Sailing Clowns are out at sea, trapped together on a boat. At times they hinder one another and bicker, at other times they are tender and caring, looking after one another. One of their number (Underwood) appears to be more acutely aware of the weather, always attempting to stop an incessant dripping that only she can hear. Of course, the incessant dripping is a metaphor for depression, a problem that the other clowns don’t truly understand. In the show’s climax, Underwood finally gives voice to her struggle in what is a moving, albeit slightly abrupt, change of form from the silent to the verbal. All three of the Sailing Clowns demonstrate beautifully the power and importance of friendship even when it feels like there is nothing you can do to help.
On land, there are the two Lighthouse Keepers, played by Cordelia Stevenson and Jack Wakely. They provide some lighter moments in the show, and their comedic timing is a joy to experience. While they offer the audience some of the greatest laughs of the show, it sometimes feels as though their plot line is slightly underdeveloped, and certainly doesn’t push the story forward in the same way that the Sailing Clowns do.
A Clown Show About Rain is a funny and touching play. All of the performances are incredibly engaging, and the audience is made to feel comfortable but alert throughout. For a show with so few lines, it truly has something important to say, and is able to speak very eloquently at that. At its core this is a show which is warm and kind. The world would certainly be better if there were more shows like A Clown Show About Rain.
A Clown Show About Rain
Pleasance Dome – 10Dome
Photo Credit: Heather Pasfield