Melbourne Theatre Company’s Come Rain or Come Shine (Musical) – Theatre Review

Love. Whether it be for a love of music, friendship love, family love, or unrequited love, like music, love is universal. I found this an overpowering theme of Melbourne Theatre Company’s Come Rain or Come Shine.

With its book by Carolyn Burns, original music by Tim Finn, lyrics by Tim Finn and Simon Phillips, and directed by Simon Phillips, based on the story by Kazuo Ishiguro, MTC‘s Come Rain or Come Shine has recently opened at Southbank Theatre’s The Sumner, and it is a superb piece of theatre.

Described as a boutique musical, Come Rain or Come Shine follows the friendships of Ray, Emily, and Charlie, played respectively by Angus Grant, Gillian Cosgriff, and Chris Ryan. The three have been the best of friends since their university days in the 70s. Ray and Emily have a special bond and share a love for the Great American Songbook. Charlie, Ray’s housemate, is just a charming rascal with a bad study etiquette and terrible taste in music. The trio’s bond appears solid and works, but all this changes when Emily and Charlie get married, and straight after, Ray moves overseas to do teaching in Spain.

Over 39 years later, the couple have invited Ray back to visit. They have a bed ready and waiting for Ray to stay in, but after Ray’s arrival, Charlie just needs to ask of Ray one little favour.

The story jumps through various moments in time via its nonlinear narrative. This flows and plays out perfectly, with the awe-inspiring décor and design of the moving set by Dale Ferguson, and the stylish costume designs by Sophie Woodward that both assist the narrative, making it obvious of which period Ray is in.

The set of Come Rain or Come Shine really feels like its own character. It shifts from messy student accommodation to a stunning neat and posh apartment with a plush pink couch, burgundy ottoman, delicate sculptures, complete with its own balcony. Just like magic, the scenes change, and the next minute you’re either in a manic office building, or at a busy airport. I also did love how the orchestra were upstairs in their own apartment with a balcony too.

While every member of the cast is outstanding, it is Angus Grant that is the true hero of the show. Grant’s performance as Ray is masterful, whether he is singing the fantastic original songs, or even when he’s not saying anything at all. His facial expressions speak volumes, and you really feel for what his character is going through.

I surprisingly found myself crying towards the end of the production, and this reaction was very different to what I could hear of the audience around me. While everyone else was laughing at Ray’s predicament, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him and for the situation that he had been thrown into.

Here is a man content with his quiet simple life, in his own element in another country he has come to call home, and yet, he is thrust into the very place and situation he had previously managed to escape from.

Like many past friendships, sometimes those who knew you prior, do not know or appreciate what you are now. The same goes for Ray, who appears only to be wanted by his old friends more for what he can do for them, and who he used to be for them, rather than for who he is now. It’s a toxic situation no-one wants to find themselves in, and yet, Ray is super kind, too kind even, that he lets others navigate the situations around him rather than taking any charge.

If the story wasn’t enough to tug at your heartstrings, the classics from the American Songbook will warm your heart, and the original music and lyrics penned by Tim Finn and Simon Phillips will tip you over the edge. Despite the story existing prior to this production, the story, the American classic tunes, and the production’s original music marry together seamlessly. My only criticism is that after leaving the show, I realised that I had no way of listening to the original songs, which is a big shame, as they really were beautiful and I wish there was a way for me to listen to them again, long after the production is over.

Come Rain or Come Shine is a wonderful boutique musical that is unexpectedly funny, bitter-sweet, charming, and is beautiful in its own special way. Ringing true the saying that ‘nice guys finish last’, I would be lying if I said this show didn’t break my heart. Because it did. Not all romantic stories have happy conclusions, nor are all stories feel-good experiences, but Come Rain or Come Shine has a story worth telling and witnessing.

Melbourne Theatre Company‘s Come Rain or Come Shine is currently playing at the Southbank Theatre’s The Sumner until the 23rd of July, 2022.
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Photography by Jeff Busby.

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