Friday, 18 February 2022

REVIEW: Rain and Zoe Save the World at the Jermyn Street Theatre

War, pandemic and terrorism are common distractions for the world’s politicians; it now seems that climate change is creeping towards the top of their ‘to do’ list. Inevitably, it is the youth who lead the way as inheritors of an increasingly bitter harvest. Future generations rely on what is done now and Greta Thunberg has come to symbolise the fight to save the planet. So what happens when two teenage activists set out on a motorcycle journey to join a group of oil protesters on the East Coast of America? That is the premise for this intriguing drama now receiving its premiere at the Jermyn Street Theatre.

Rain (Jordan Benjamin) and Zoe (Mei Henri) are two high school kids from Washington State who share the same sense of adventure. However, Zoe is determined to make a statement and prove her credentials as a climate activist. Rain is hesitant when she suggests they take his motorcycle to the east coast. Duly convinced they both head off on the protest trail. Along the way they learn something about themselves as their personal motivation becomes more obvious. Zoe is driven by the example of her mother, a long-standing activist who has set the benchmark for her daughter. Rain meanwhile is guided by his father's spirit as he struggles to stay on the same wavelength as Zoe. They don't fly under the radar for long as their activities soon become the focus of attention.

The play is undoubtedly on message and clearly encapsulates the growing clamour for climate change. There is an intelligent script, some tuneful songs and two highly talented performers leading the piece. However, the narrative seems to branch into racism, sexism and LGBT rights, which isn't necessarily the focus of the piece. The length of the play also feels dangerously stretched with an hour on either side of a twenty-minute interval. With so much stage time to fill Act 1 lacks detail and fails to move the narrative along at a steady pace. The play comes into its own in Act 2 where the consequences of Rain and Zoe's actions become apparent. Half an hour could and should have been shaved off the running time to create two Acts of 45 minutes each. This would have rid the play of unnecessary padding and given the piece a more streamlined feel. Having said that, it remains a bright and engaging take on one of the greatest buzz phrases of modern times.

Review by Brian Penn

Rating: ★★★

Seat: D3 | Price of Ticket: £32/£28 concessions

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