The Wind and The Rain.
Finborough Theatre, London
Writer: Merton Hodge
Cast: Lynton Appleton, Harvey Cole, David Furlong, Mark Lawrence, Jenny Lee, Joe Pitts, Naomi Preston-Low, Helen Reuben.
Director Geoffrey Beevers.
Producer: Julia Blomberg for Gabriel Entertainment Limited in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre.
July 11- August 5.
Running time: two hours 15 minutes, including interval
A wistful story of Edinburgh medical students tussling with exams and affairs of the heart was one of the biggest international hits of the 1930s and a staple of British repertory theatre for decades after.
It is the partly autobiographical work of Merton Hodge, who juggled writing with a career in London hospital medicine and partying with Ivor Novello and Noel Coward before returning to his native New Zealand where he is believed to have committed suicide.
In our age of instant gratification and short attention spans, more than two hours of slow pace and limited action could seem merely dated, but the triumph of director Geoffrey Beevers’ revival of The Wind and the Rain is that he makes us instead realise our modern conditioning has come at the price of more thoughtful pleasures.
The secret of our absorption lies in the acting.
As the central couple, Charles Tritton, played by Joe Pitts, is a sometimes sulky, always earnest student and lover to soul-mate Anne Hargreaves, played by Naomi Preston-Low, a high-minded New Zealander with a convincing accent.
They are surrounded by the rough and tumble of care-free pleasure-seekers, with Mark Lawrence as hedonist-in-chief Gilbert Raymond and Helen Reuben as the bubbly Jill Mannering, theoretically destined for Tritton.
Watching it all from a disdainful distance is Jenny Lee as the landlady Mrs. McFie, who has seen it all time and again and is hardened to the arrogance of youth.
Just as the students mock Mrs. McFie, we could mock the play with its quaint “cheeros”, but we’d be as wrong as the callow young medics.
With maturity, even they see through to the heart-felt.
Barbara Lewis © 2023.