Nicholas Pierpan goes against the currently popular portrayal in The Maddening Rain
, which features a likeable City trader. Director Matthew Dunster has experience directing monologues
and so is a steady hand steering Felix Scott's impressive, restrained performance. Scott's character is neither an entirely uneducated barrowboy nor an Oxbridge graduate, falling somewhere in between the two stereotypes, and about half the play follows his progression, as much luck as judgement, from builder, to bank teller, to low-level employee until finally he's throwing around millions of other people's money. With bankers the go-to baddie to get a big laugh or boo from audiences at the moment, Pierpan's insistence on focusing on the complete journey means we can't see his protagonist as simply as this, as his actions start to become more cut-throat we know precisely in what kind of environment this behaviour was bred in someone essentially good-natured.
Though obviously coming back to the topical politico-economic subject of the play's setting, the monologue is ultimately concerned with identity. The narrator has lost all sense of his, and the more successful he becomes at work the more obsessed he becomes with two things from his past that he thinks may hold the key: A girl he briefly dated as a teenager, and the bowling alley he helped assemble in his days as a builder. Scott guides us through the ensuing breakdown in a powerful but unshowy performance, occasionally breaking into other characters for comic effect but mostly holding your attention on the fascinatingly complex central character.
One note unrelated to the play, about Soho Theatre: For the second time in a few months, I arrived at the venue to find that the show started 15 minutes earlier than it said on my confirmation email. I'd actually printed it out this time so I was able to check it was indeed them and not me making the mistake. (Fortunately I always leave plenty of time so still had 5 minutes to spare.) I mentioned it to the box office, who hadn't heard of the problem before (presumably other people getting the same thing have been assuming they were the ones in the wrong) but said start times do occasionally get rejigged by 15 minutes or so because of the multiple shows in each venue. So it seems people who booked online aren't being contacted when these changes are made. Hopefully now they've been alerted to it someone will take a look at the glitch, but if you've booked online in advance for something at Soho Theatre it may be an idea to double-check the start time nearer the performance.The Maddening Rain
by Nicholas Pierpan is booking intil the 10th of December at Soho Theatre Upstairs.