BATS Theatre, Wellington

26/04/2006 - 29/04/2006

Production Details

by Amalia Calder

directed by Katrina Chandra


A gripping thought provoking tale of what really happens when someone else discovers your best kept secret.

Rain is set in a small country house just outside Eketahuna. The play starts in the wee hours of a stormy morning with Anahera receiving two visitors; one her neighbour Kevin and the other her best friend who she has not seen in months …

Rain - Beatrice Lee-Smith
Anahera - Amalia Calder
Kevin - James Amos
Lighting – Corey Levaillante
Stage manager – Lucy Edwards

Theatre ,

50 mins

Memorable play warmly acted

Review by Lynn Freeman 06th May 2006

Battered wife/partner syndrome is no longer sneered at as a condition but it’s still little understood by people who’ve never experienced it.

In Rain, Amalia Calder pits two life-long friends against each other to express both sides of the issue. As you’d expect, the friend who’s outraged (Anahera) has much more convincing arguments than her once feisty now downtrodden, heavily pregnant and abused friend, Rain.

The two friends have taken very different paths since they were inseparable as kids. Anahera (Amalia Calder) chose the life of a professional woman only to find it a poisoned chalice. She returns home, to the outskirts of Eketahuna where Rain (Bee Lee-Smith) still lives, but she, too, is changed by her life choice.

Friendship is a big theme of the play and is convincingly portrayed between the two women (hell hath no fury like best friends on a collision course). There is also Anahera’s affection for farmer Kevin (James Amos) who keeps an eye on her in between farm duties.

Calder’s script is interesting and while it launches into diatribe in places, and things don’t feel quite right, it all falls into place come the ending. As the writer it should come as no surprise that Calder’s character fits her like the proverbial glove. While she is a professional performer, Bea Lee-Smith seems less relaxed on stage, though to be fair her character is fragile and edgy. Amos is in contrast totally relaxed as the "lumbering cockie with the heart of gold", Kevin.

Rain is a memorable play, warmly acted and nicely directed (apart from the very last image, which needs to be rethought).


Katrina Chandra May 10th, 2006

Thanks for your review Lynn, I wondered if anyone was going to pull me up on that last image - I know it was a little(!) cliched, but I would like to say that I did have a slightly different plan originally. Similar image but I hadn't counted on the (horribly noisy) stairs being there - they went back in just a few days before we packed in. Originally the light was to be outside the main double doors and she was to walk straight ahead, push through the doors into the light and then close them. Ah well. What do you think might have been a better choice? Regards, Katrina.

Tolis Papazoglou May 7th, 2006

Dear Lynn I was not able to see RAIN. However I would like to have had your thoughts about how the last scene could be re-thought. With thanks Tolis

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Mystery twist a winner

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 01st May 2006

Murder-mystery plays are not common genre for New Zealand playwrights, yet we have two such plays currently running in Wellington at the moment: Circa Studio’s Drawer of Knives and now Amalia Calder’s Rain playing early evenings at BATS. 

Calder’s previous plays have focused on the more bizarre elements of human nature but in Rain, she attempts a much more down-to-earth subject: wife beating and physical abuse in a very New Zealand context but using a somewhat surreal way of getting her message across. 

And although not without its faults in structure and writing, this play is a vast improvement on her earlier works and does have the potential for an interesting piece of theatre. For reason’s never clearly spelt out, Anahera, played by Calder herself, leaves the bright lights of Palmerston North to live in a run down shack in the rural countryside of Eketahuna. 

It does however, become obvious that abusive men have played a significant part in her life, to the point where, though still young, she is now unable to have children. 

She has a very friendly, if uncouth, neighbour Kevin (James Amos), who provides solace in her hour need at the end of the play.  However, it’s the visitation of her supposedly pregnant best friend Rain (Bea Lee-Smith) in the early hours of a wet and windy morning that begins to get her worked up.  Rain is in an abusive relationship, and though Anahera has been there herself, she is not prepared to help till Rain begins to take some responsibility for herself.  Then, through what is probably the most interesting part of the play, we begin to learn what really happened to these two young women, that is till Kevin arrives again and the play takes on a most surreal and intriguing twist of mystery and apparent murder.

Director Katrina Chandra has done well with her actors to provide the required amount of tension and intrigue that the play requires, and though at times the languid, almost too natural a style of acting pulls the play too far inward, the characters and their situations are real and believable making this a fascinating piece of theatre.


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The qualities of Rain

Review by John Smythe 26th Apr 2006

What a pleasure to have one’s trepidation subverted by something much better than I’d dared to expect. Having described Amalia Calder’s Hospital Corners (Fringe 05) and You Know What? I Really Don’t Like You! (Fringe 06) as "manic but sadly uncomic", I cannot pretend I was holding out great hope for Rain.

But this new Calder play is delivered with mystery, drama and a touch of poignant comedy. Certainly it is a bit over-written, some lines are rather clunky and the final departure of the title character into the white light is more than a little over the top. Yet the sense of authenticity that permeates this portrait of a damaged friendship keeps it compelling.

It’s a dark and stormy night when Anahera (Calder), alone in remote Eketahuna cottage, is visited first by Kevin (James Amos), the local vet who is helping a cow give birth, then Rain (Bea Lee-Smith), her surrogate sister from childhood from whom she’s become estranged.

What appears contrived and way too convenient turns out to be justified dramatically. Although it’s a rather dangerous game to play, most of the credibility questions that arise do get answered. Meanwhile I have expended unnecessary energy wanting to know why Ana has demanded to know why Kevin is walking into her place at 3am but has no such question for Rain.

The more we learn about Rain’s relationship with her husband, the more I concerned I’ve become at Ana’s failure to insist on knowing exactly what has brought her here at such an ungodly hour, and in such stormy weather.

With director Katrina Chandra at the helm, all three actors play for truth. While the relationship between Ana and Kevin is necessarily awkward yet strangely affectionate, the bond between Ana and Rain is intriguingly complex. Lee-Smith and Calder work so well together, the apparent contrivance of their expositional exchanges is easily forgiven.

Given that the central theme concerns being honest with oneself as well as each other, there is a nice irony in Ana thanking Rain for not telling her the real reason she has appeared, because if she had known it, she would never have said the things she did about Rain’s co-dependent compliance in her abusive marriage. And Ana needed to say those things.

Seen from a more rational and objective viewpoint, the play offers a revealing insight into how we may intuitively process information in order to achieve completion. What it doesn’t need is the unrealistically bright lighting plot. I feel sure that Ana’s subjective experience is much more likely to happen in a relatively shadowy environment.

The unaccredited set design is functional with the rain-running window pane a nice touch. The lighting and sound effects need to be re-jigged so that the lightning comes before the thunder, and at times the actors need to speak up – as they would in real life – over the sound of the weather.

Quibbles aside, what we walk away with is a strong sense of how abusive relationships work and what damage they do to those we love. Despite taking the name of a well known New Zealand novella and film, Amalia Calder’s Rain is well named for its dual role as a destructive and life-giving force.


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