Review: 100% Chance of Rain

4 star rating
In its unique inclusive style, Chickenshed offers a stimulating and skilfully performed multi-media examination of poignant and important facets of mental well-being.
100% Chance of Rain at Chickenshed Theatre

Image: Chickenshed Theatre

Closes here: Saturday 30 March 2019

Conceived by Lou Stein

Dave Carey

Lou Stein


Belinda McGuirk as Liz Abulafia


Audiences have been dazzled and moved by Blowin' in the Wind and Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow, the shows that have been presented in our regular spring slot over the last two years.

For 2019, Chickenshed will be building on these successes, and creating a brand new show.

Combining music, movement and story, inspired and linked by the issues of mental health, this piece will yet again harness the incredible creativity and artistry within Chickenshed.

Beautiful, inspiring and uplifiting, 100% Chance of Rain will offer insights and reflections through this unique theatrical presentation.

It is estimated that one in four people in the UK will experience mental health problems each year.

100% Chance of Rain will explore the individual and universal truths behind the statistics, and also offer the chance to reflect on our own experiences through the creative power of performance.


Audiences have been dazzled and moved by Blowin' in the Wind and Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow, the shows that have been presented in our regular spring slot over the last two years.

ActDrop reviews

Peter Brown

Performance date: Monday 11 March 2019
Review star rating image

Throughout the artistic year at Chickenshed we're offered a wide variety of productions - from intimate stagings (sometimes of well-known plays) in its well-equipped studio theatre, to elaborate shows in its much larger auditorium with casts that can be counted in the hundreds.

Such variety is frequently enhanced with thoughtful and thought-provoking productions examining issues that obviously matter to Chickenshed's company, as well as to the general population, such as climate change in a previous show.

In 100% Chance of Rain (which sounds a bit like it might be continuing the climate theme) we not only find a large and talented cast of performers, but a quite different subject that touches on the experiences of us all.

That subject is mental health - perhaps more appropriately described as 'mental well-being'.

The title, though possibly ambiguous, suggests to me that we all face times when life brings significant gloomy challenges that affect our mental state.

Loss, loneliness, disappointment, hardship and much else besides can cast emotional shadows on us.

The format for 100% Chance of Rain is a series of vignettes comprised of dance, movement, song and music backed-up with some very effective lighting, video sequences and projections.

The scenes are developed by teams of inventive creative directors who skilfully manage their substantial ensembles to effect different takes on a variety of issues surrounding mental well-being such as self-harm, isolation and suicide among others.

The entire show is linked together by Chickenshed regular Belinda McGuirk who plays an imaginary arts therapist - Liz Abulafia - who delivers monologues interspersed between the ensemble scenes.

This is a technique we've seen before at Chickenshed, linking ideas together and providing some continuity within the overall structure.

Though Belinda McGuirk ably provides a warm and comforting character to relate to, her exposition of ideas using a sand box didn't always feel satisfactorily effective in elucidating ideas and issues.

It might have been more appropriate in this context to challenge the individual creative teams to devise means to pass on the baton to the next team in the sequence, providing their own links between what seem like disparate issues but which, in many ways, have a common emotional connection.

As with many of Chickenshed's productions, there's bags of energy and huge amounts of committed talent on display and those elements are enough on their own to carry the enterprise along dynamically and to captivate.

Though shows at this venue often include youngsters who've not yet reached double digit birthdays, the cast here is composed of older members of the venue's substantial and inclusive community, augmented here with a sizeable number of older adults from The Space Between Us project, lending an intergenerational component to the casting.

Together, the ensemble provide some excellently orchestrated routines which, at their heart, blend dance, movement and music.

Well-known songs like Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now" and the appropriately evocative "This Boy" by Tom Baxter find their way into the programme, sitting alongside others from musical director Dave Carey who also appropriately adapts and embellishes some of the chart-toppers like "She's Leaving Home" from The Beatles.

The music here is certainly a significant and well-executed feature with a carefully chosen and enjoyable selection of numbers that are powerfully sung by the company as a whole, and by gifted individual singers - sometimes sending tingles down the spine.

Dealing with this kind of sensitive and complex issue is no mean feat for even the most experienced and skilled creative team, but the Chickenshed community are not the kind of artists to dodge or shrink from this kind of challenge and responsibility.

Though their artistic efforts occasionally lack complete clarity, Chickenshed's unique inclusive style combined with a topical and important subject, nonetheless offers a stimulating and skilfully performed examination of poignant issues that feels fresh and often (counter intuitively given the subject) emotionally invigorating too.

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