Sunday, 24 July 2011

The Rainbow Connection

Hot on the heels of the Manchester International Festival comes a more manageable affair in the form of the 24:7 Theatre Festival. Thirteen plays in three non-standard theatrical venues over nine days. Okay maybe not that manageable …

In any case, if you know me you’ll probably know how much I love Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Blake Edwards’ stylish 1961 New York love story. References to the movie run playfully through Joanne Sherryden’s The Rainbow Connection; the Audrey Hepburn painting on the wall, ‘Moon River’ on the stereo, the rainstorm, the fire escape and the poor cat without a name (not to mention the Truman Capote lookalike on the row in front …). The play delightfully queers the traditional romance of the movie to look at the very particular friendships that form between gay men and straight women.

Neighbours Shelly (Danielle Henry) and Joe (Anthony Crank) are somewhat removed from their own lives, he, agoraphobic and obsessive-compulsive (‘Can you put those remote controls in order of size please …?’), she brassy but marginalised as ‘the other woman’ (‘His wife’s sick, he has to look after her …’ ‘So who’s looking after you…?’).

In the bumpy course of their friendship they are forced to address the limits they’ve placed on themselves; grief, self-worth, fear. The dramatic tropes of this type of gay/straight friendship, such as sexual attraction or lack of it, can’t be avoided and are handled here with a great sense of fun and panache.

The performances are as warm and bold as the script, which bounces between comedy and pathos without ever dipping too far into sentiment. Ultimately , Shelly and Joe learn to look out for themselves by looking out for each other. In other words, a proper love story.

The Rainbow Connection is on at New Century House until the 28th. Tickets here.

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