Whatever the Weather

Review by Flossie Waite
Polka Theatre
M6 Theatre Company in association with Polka Theatre
For ages 3-6
8th – 19th April 2015

M6 Theatre have succeeded where Michael Fish and the rest of his ilk have so far failed: to explain, very reasonably, why the UK experiences the weather of every season during a typical 24 hours. Forget surface pressures and atmospheric processes – it’s all down to the fact Mr Rain and Mrs Sun can’t stand each other. So really, Whatever the Weather is a very quick lesson in meteorology, as well as a short, sunny burst of accomplished theatre..

Day after day, month after month, two figures take it in turns stepping out of their weather house – when it’s warm, a woman appears; when it’s pouring down, a man does. “Never together, always alone”: it’s a lonely life for a wooden weather predictor. Gilly Baskeyfield’s Whatever the Weather asks: what would happen if Mrs Sun and Mr Rain came to life? The answer, it turns out, is become passive-aggressive neighbours. Temperatures rise as each bickers over how the other does things: Mrs Sun places a nest of baby chicks perilously exposed in a tree; Mr Rain, unappreciative of bold sartorial choices, removes a carefully-placed straw hat from the resident deer.

The play explores the difficulties of taking turns and making friends, using very few words and a score from Jon Nicholls that subtly shifts the show’s gears. There are two performers – Carl Cockram as Mr Rain, whose facial expressions are a constant source of delight, including his brilliant mime of water drops falling on his face; and Simone Lewis who really does glow as Mrs Sun, and manages to make dancing with a feather (an incredibly hard to control partner) look both lovely and effortless.

Whilst the production’s end may be as predictable as rain on a bank holiday, the middle is not so easy to foretell. Joss Matzen’s detailed set is full of surprises (I’m talking fridges popping out of trees) that really add to the storytelling. When Mrs Sun breaks the weather house’s drain, Mr Rain sets up a complicated alternative – a system going right across the stage using everything he can find. As real water starts unexpectedly pouring through, it becomes a real highlight of the show.

Rumours that M6 Theatre’s next production will bring the shipping forecast to life are, as yet, unconfirmed, though if Whatever the Weather is anything to go by, it would be a breeze.

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