The Same Rain That Falls On Me is one of the latest theatre projects hosted by [email protected] Performed by Ella McKeown from York Drama Society, it’s a 35-minute story about Alice, who, in the midst of deciding what to do for her undergraduate geography dissertation, has to return home to visit her dying father in hospital.
What holds this production together is a raw vulnerability that seeps into all of its moments, even the more humorous ones. There’s no dramatic conclusive moment where Alice bursts into tears or finally lets herself feel whatever it is that you think she should be feeling – be that anger, pain, grief, or anything else. Instead, the emotion is present throughout; never at the forefront, but being clearly visible under the surface throughout in such a way that you can’t help but be concerned.
The way that McKeown plays Alice is best described as, your friend who’s seemingly in a bad space, but whenever you attempt to check in with them, they immediately smile and brush it off as nothing. This is done well throughout, with McKeown’s intonation and emphasis on some more light-hearted moments achieving a certain cover of normality, without obscuring the emotional struggles underneath.
The entire performance is done in a one-shot take, with her sitting largely motionless in what looks to be her living room. This both works and doesn’t in a strange way. On the one hand, this feels like a monologue that would be better received if performed live, as you get that emotional closeness and sympathy of proximity that intimate theatre spaces provide. On the other hand, the graininess of the camera – be this a deliberate creative choice or simply down to available equipment – provides a strong sense that this is in the past. As though this is a message Alice has recorded for her father long ago, despite the story being set in the present. It’s nice that the creative team makes the limitations of theatre spaces being closed work in their favour somewhat, but it has its downsides too.
The Same Rain That Falls On Me is a play that works to make you identify with the character’s emotional struggles, developing a sense of empathy and connection with her. There’s little in the way of a plot that doesn’t add to that aspect though; difficult relationships with her mother and brother are never exactly concluded in the story, but they do contribute to her sense of isolation and loss, as the family member she feels closest to is unable to be close to her. It’s rather heartbreaking in that regard, and the fact that it has come out in a year that has taken so many family members from us all gives it an extra sense of tragedy and relatability.
Words by Mischa Alexander.
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