Rainer – Arcola Outside, London

Reviewer: Christine Stanton

Writer: Max Wilkinson

Director: Nico Pimparé

Rainer: speeding through life and taking in every inch of London during her days as a food delivery driver. One minute she’s dropping off tiramisu to her ex in Hampstead, the next she’s consoling a catfish over a glass of wine. But her friendly persona is crippled with grief and struggle as she tries to muddle her way through angry landlords and disappearing lovers. Rainer’s life is erratic, and with everything she’s bottling up, it’s no surprise. She tries to block out the pain by studying the people that cross her path and re-imagine the beauty around her, but how long can she create this faux reality before everything in the real world begins to crumble?

While this narrative explores some very in-depth and touching themes, much like Rainer’s fast-moving life, everything seems to get rushed through and brushed over, without allowing the audience a second to marinate on the intensity of her situation. Max Wilkinson’s script is lengthy and packed with detail, but the delicate themes are ploughed over and replaced with long-winded anecdotes of Rainer’s journeys and customers rather than paying more attention to the aspects that could make it a really moving play.

Although a celebration of the people Rainer meets, there is little chance to engage, with Rainer herself or with the situations she finds herself in. The stripped back set is perfect for a monologue such as this, with all focus on Sorcha Kennedy, flitting from one scene to the next, but it just doesn’t quite hit the mark.

It would be great if director Nico Pimparé would utilise the set slightly better and implement a bit more pace within the narrative. While the space on stage is large and inviting, Kennedy spends large portions of the performance rushing in, around and behind the audience, noticeably losing people’s attention while they strain to hear or crane their neck to get a better viewpoint. Although this instruction is clearly trying to convey her manic state of mind it instead just makes for an uncomfortable watch and a loss in some of the suspense that has grown prior. With this and delayed timings on sound cues and strange off-beat lighting choices, it all just appears unintentionally hectic.

This heavy script has a lot of promise and the journey that Rainer goes through is both compelling and intriguing. What it really needs is for points within the show to be slowed down so that the jokes can land, or the poignant moments can really take effect. Wiith this small tweak, this performance would be the emotionally captivating narrative that is at the heart of this show.

Runs until 9 October 2021

The Reviews Hub Score

Manic but mundane

The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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