Come Rain or Come Shine - Melbourne Theatre Company (VIC)
Book by Carolyn Burns, Music by Tim Finn, Directed by Simon Phillips
Reviewed by Martha “MJ” Latham
Come Rain or Come Shine is a new musical by Melbourne Theatre Company. It's an adaption of a novella by Kazuo Ishiguro about friendship, time and music. There were lots of little things I loved in Come Rain or Come Shine: A short song about the joys of lovers swapping stories after they get off work, A joke about an idealistic young person who thinks “people in the third world should get paid” and the work of the performers (Gillian Cosgriff in particular) and the design team tenderly reflecting on how time changes us as people.
But what I loved the most about Come Rain or Come Shine was the music. Music is too often seen as a form of sound design by so many directors, producers and even composers themselves. But music has its own voice and can be used as a character of its own. The creative team of Come Rain or Come Shine clearly understood this, as the collaboration between music and performance is impeccably well done, with performers and musicians we're constantly riffing off each other to comedic effect.
It’s easy to see why the team thought to bring this short story to life. The play is so interspersed with old tunes and music that I cannot imagine reading the novella without constantly having to jump online and hear Ray Charles dribble out “I'm gonna love you like nobody's loved you”. These beautiful old songs are really given a headlining spot within the play, and the live band playing above the stage, just visible through cracks in the windows of the set, create some really emotional moments. The ability to listen to the beauty of these songs with the characters listening alongside us almost elevated the work to a really unique place. Unfortunately, it never quite makes it all the way there.
So many scenes played out for far too long and were interspersed seemingly arbitrarily, such as the aforementioned "swapping stories after five" scene that, while beautiful, seemed to interrupt the midpoint and the climax. This extended to the point that the ending was so unexpected and underplayed you could hear the audience whisper "wait, is that the end?". So while the play had a lot of incredible bits and pieces, the fragmented nature of all these elements made the overall experience feel like less than the sum of its parts.
The other key issue with Come Rain or Come Shine was that it felt dated. Even the style of the work with its melodramatic performances, moving sets and blackouts felt like it was from 10 years ago, rather than a brand new musical from some of Australia's most experienced creators.
Come Rain or Come Shine plays at the Melbourne Theatre Company until 23rd July. Tickets can be booked here.
CAST & CREATIVES EMILY Gillian Cosgriff RAY Angus Grant CHARLIE Chris Ryan BOOK Carolyn Burns MUSIC & LYRICS Tim Finn DIRECTOR Simon Phillips ORCHESTRATIONS, ADDITIONAL MUSIC, MUSIC SUPERVISION & SOUND DESIGN Isaac Hayward MUSICAL DIRECTOR Jack Earle SET DESIGNER Dale Ferguson COSTUME DESIGNER Sophie Woodward LIGHTING DESIGNER Katie Sfetkidis VOICE & DIALECT COACH Matt Furlani ASSISTANT DIRECTOR Miranda Middleton