What connects a book about ant colonies, an air crash near Suez, a Cumbrian mining accident and a young Egyptian woman touring the museums of Europe? This is the question posed by After The Rainfall – an ambitious piece which uses four different narratives to think about how we communicate.
Non-linear theatre defies easy summary. Immediately projections signal to the audience that the four stories unfold in four different time periods. 1952; 1986; 2013 and 2023 – in the wake of the death of Queen Elizabeth. Through these strands, which are brought together in the closing moments, the piece poses questions about the end of empires and the value of possessions. No fragment lasts for more than a few minutes; each instalment is told in short, almost overlapping bursts.
This is the second production from the young ‘Curious Detective’ company, who formed as a group of students at Warwick University in 2009. Their first offering, ‘Your Last Breath’ wowed critics. This tricky second play is fresh and exciting, but perhaps too consciously clever. It makes the audience think, but does not pull at the heart-strings. Most impressive are the company’s use of sound, light and effects. Projections on the back wall are put to great effect and contribute to the play’s themes of discussion and communication in the digital age. At times, the audience glimpses the missing miner through a window panel in the set, or sees the crash of a bi-plane recreated through simple props. After the Rainfall is an intelligent and worthwhile piece, but only at these moments is it truly enjoyable.