In the island nation of Sólset live a small group of people that has been experiencing a decade-long drought. However, that's not enough to dampen their spirits, particularly the residents of an apartment building, with each of them dealing with their own day-to-day problems of heartbreak, love, friendship and loneliness. But it is only a matter of time before the inevitable occurs and disaster strikes in this original climate change story conceived by Perth theatre company, The Last Great Hunt, Lé Nør [the rain].
This is a wonderful story full of suspense, drama and humour, and the cast take to it with such skill and commitment (with many playing multiple characters) that you easily form strong emotional connections to what is happening to the residents. To make it even more challenging for the ensemble (Gita Bezard, Adriane Daff, Jeffrey Jay Fowler, Arielle Gray, Chris Isaacs, Jo Morris and Tim Watts), the entire dialogue is spoken in the fictitious native Sólset language, with English surtitles displayed to the audience. And this is just the tip of the iceberg about what makes Lé Nør [the rain] an exciting piece of work.
Combining live theatre with filmmaking, the performances are projected onto a large screen that is situated in the middle of the stage. However, all the scenes take place to the side of, or behind the screen, and with that we get to see how all the visual effects and cinematic magic are created, from depicting the rising waters in the flooding city, to an amusing conversation in an apartment stairwell to an absolutely mesmerising musical montage that begins with one person taking a bath, a shot where that alone is worthy of special mention in bringing such stunning visualis to life. Camera operator, Courtney Henri is masterful in ensuring this very complex production runs smoothly and Georgia Sealey displays a remarkable level of keeping calm under pressure in ensuring that not only are all surtitles presented on screen as they are spoken, but that all cues are played at the correct moment.
The 80s aesthetics of Lé Nør [the rain], gives the impression that this is a country that the world has forgotten about or turned its back on, much like the world is doing with the fight against climate change. Caitri Jones' outifts and marvellous wigs, and the set design by Anthony Watt provide a convincing foundation to this world building. The soundtrack includes some highly memorable 80s pop songs and their addition into the narrative through various threads is extremely fun to watch.
It's mind blowing knowing that this work was first performed four years ago because it still feels so inspired and innovative. The technical feats witnessed are unrivalled to anything I have ever seen before, and every element of Lé Nør [the rain] has come together for a fully realised production that is definitely going to be one I will remember for many years to come.
Lé Nør [the rain] was performed at Monash University Performing Arts Centre between 4 - 5 May 2023.
Image Credit: Daniel James Grant
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