When It Rains by 2b Theatre Company at the Belfry Theatre SPARK Festival, March 25-29, 2014. A review.
Halifax’s 2b Theatre Company is definitely on a roll. Currently they are touring When it Rains (now playing in Victoria BC at the Belfry Theatre’s SPARK Festival, March 25-29,2014) and have just received nods for The God That Comes (featuring Hawksley Workman and seen locally at Intrepid Theatre’s UNO Fest 2012) at Nova Scotia’s Merritt Awards, winning Best New Play by a Nova Scotian, and an award for lighting design.
When it Rains is deceptively simple—using two dimensional projections as set décor—yet covers the range from black humour to comedy to despair, in a “story of four people” that ties perfectly into the ethos of our age.
The tone is set from the very beginning when a clearly sardonic, and slightly mechanical (and unseen) narrator (à la Siri) provides the audience with the back story to the lives of Alan (Anthony Black), Sybil (Francine Deschepper), Anna (Samantha Wilson) and Louis (Pierre Simpson). Life is random, as their couplings prove. Alan and Sybil met in a coffee shop, Anna and Louis on the street in France. At first there is much to laugh about in the small seemingly inconsequential actions of daily living—Alan is a bit of a math genius, reducing events to their statistical probability; Sybil, finally pregnant with their first child, is deeply grateful; Anna struggles to write her first book and connect with her higher self; Louis, originally from France, teaches at the university, and becomes more and more disillusioned. They bumble along and then life gets complicated.
In one (of many) distinctive scene, Louis—who has been living on the street—stands under Anna’s window and begins to belt the complete “Ne Me Quittes Pas”. The narrator informs us that it is 4 minutes and 19 seconds long as the translation rolls on the screen. The combination of desperate love and side-commentary is at once sad and amusing.
I grew up on Vancouver Island but came of age as a young adult in Paris in the early 1970s—I’m a sucker for anything Brel. It brings to mind lazy days spent meandering the boulevards watching ultra-chic and oh-so-sophisticated people lounging at sidewalk cafés with that particular French air of “je m’en fous” (roughly translatable to “devil-may-care attitude”). The French defined hipsterism long before it made an appearance this side of the Atlantic. They also defined existential angst—and there’s plenty of that in When it Rains.
The technical expertise required to bring When it Rains to life is astonishing—animated projections becoming increasingly complicated, moving from simple circles of light to complete home interiors.
We live, we laugh, we love, we die. Sometimes good things happen; sometimes bad things happen. When it Rains helps us to remember these inevitabilities and to laugh while we do. It celebrates life in all its messy and profoundly moving glory.
2b theatre company “strives to stimulate the mind and to awaken the spirit by producing theatre that is vital, innovative and challenging”
2b theatre company (Halifax)
When It Rains, written and directed by Anthony Black
Belfry Theatre SPARK Festival
March 25-29, 2014
Tickets $20 at the Belfry Theatre Box Office
Anthony Black Alan
Francine Deschepper Sybil
Pierre Simpson Louis
Samantha Wilson Anna
Sound Design/Dramaturgy Christian Barry
Projection Designer Nick Bottomley
Costume Designer Leesa Hamilton
Stage Manager Daniel Oulton
Technical Director Robert Tracey
Disclaimer: I was provided with complimentary tickets to When It Rains. As always, I retain complete editorial control over all content published on this site.