I Will Swallow the Rain
Red Jacket Theatre at Profiles Theatre. Written by Andrew Perez. Dir. Perez. With Sarra Kaufman, Jonah Meadows, Jonny Sanders, Alex Sell.
Graft The Real World onto Smallville, add angsty Sam Shepard bluster and then slide it into a Mary Zimmerman frame and you’ve got I Will Swallow the Rain. Red Jacket Theatre’s premiere imagines what happens to a superhero’s deepest friendship when he dons his mask and must save everyone else. At least, that’s the play that’s struggling to wriggle out from under writer-director Perez’s whole-hog excess of metaphor and style. If he trimmed the fat, a plausible, playable story about friendship and (trite as it sounds) growing up would gratifyingly emerge.
On the night of his 21st birthday, Willie (Sanders) lines up five bottles of Johnnie Walker Red and puts on a paper birthday cap to ring in adulthood. But this isn’t his story, a point that’s unclear until a good halfway through the play, well after his buddy Peter (Sell) arrives with a gift, a new Ferrari he may or may not have bogarted for his friend. The lifelong buds hash out and heal old wounds on a rainy night during which, of all things, a battle between two superheroes is also destined to take place. Sanders’s shaggily natural performance as the self-absorbed, hyperarticulate, underachieving dude who ruminates on life’s “overbearing, arbitrary sorrow” anchors the guys’ connection, as do the manic efforts of the skilled Sell. But the play’s mythic (and myopic) pretensions multiply its genuine nucleus into trite insights and baffling parallels, making this Rain, like Willie’s final shots of Scotch, tough to swallow.—Megan Powell