Discussion with the creative team behind RAINER (running at the Arcola from 1-18 June)

Rainer opens this Wednesday, running for three weeks from the 1st to the 18th of June at the Arcola’s New Outside Space and is published by Bloomsbury, Methuen which can be purchased online and at the Arcola Theatre.
You can watch the trailer to the show here!
Book tickets here.
We asked the creative team to tell us more about the play…

Nico Rao Pimpare  (Director)

RAINER is about the London that I see around me but never on TV or in theatre, where young people spend more than half their income on individual rooms in overcrowded flats, where job stability does not exist and where a pint costs an hour’s minimum wage. As a society, we have to do realise that hand-to-mouth existence is not just in certain neighbourhoods, in other cities or even in other countries. It is all around us. Most young people live it day to day. Rainer, our protagonist and a delivery rider, is a typical Londoner. She is educated, sensitive, a tad cynical. And like most of us, she struggles to keep the balance in her bank account above zero.

Max’s play captures the absurd yet very real place that is London. Amidst the backdrop of multi-million dollar high rises on one end, and greasy chicken shops on the other, it invites us to look at what we spend our lives trying to screen out. I have loved this endeavour to paint a moving image of London, from the tower blocks looming overhead to the vomit splattered on the pavement, from the ghostlike glow of the streetlights wizzing by to the grotesque mouth of a man objectifying his girlfriend. Rainer’s bike is, of course, a storytelling device that provides us with the opportunity to glide through through the streets of London. But it is also a metaphor. The Sisyphean image of Rainer frenetically peddling around the restless city is the embodiment of a generation that does not know where it is going, yet can’t afford to stop and think.

Sorcha (playing Rainer)

Playing Rainer is a thrill. Max has conjured up, in his wildly poetic and blunt writing, a deeply complex, relatable being. She’s a subversive whose lens on the world is actually very encompassing. She may be messy and she’s certainly running from something, but she rebels against cynicism, to see beauty in the quotidian. Her isolation buys her an excellent vantage point but also creates a creeping dislocation from reality. She’s a ferocious island of a person who desperately wants to be taken care of sometimes. Nico’s created a playful, challenging environment during rehearsal; there’s been much joy in this room. I’m in awe of the whole creative team really. It’s rammed with talent and everyone is coming together with brilliant offerings in order to bring Rainer’s strange and wonderful world into being. 

Jamie Platt (Lighting Designer)

Max’s play does a fantastic job in highlighting the huge social changes we all went through in 2020; having come out of lockdown after being isolated and seeing people only on laptop screens, to suddenly being in bars and restaurants full of people eating out to help out; the contrast of that crazy situation is shown brilliantly in the text.

The play moves from Waterloo to Dalston, Canary Wharf to Golders Green, reflecting the exciting, dynamic, varied people who inhabit this city, perfectly portrayed by our actress Sorcha, who crams dozens of different and vibrant Londoners into her performance.

It’s been great to work with Alistair, Nico, Zoë & Danni on this project; gathering a small team who are all passionate about bringing the show to life and supporting Max’s writing in delivering a fun, bold and dynamic love letter to London

Max Wilkinson (Writer)

What I hope people will take from this show? I hope a lot of joy, a lot of laughs and lot of compassion, I hope.

London is this sort of maddening, frantic knot of people and problems, it’s very easy to prioritise yourself and keep moving in this kind of adrenaline-frenzied dance.

I think I’d like audiences to stop, a little, and consider the people around them and what they may be going through, what stories they have, as well as the architecture of the city and its history and the direction it’s moving in now.

I’d like them to celebrate places and people. And I think after years of being locked in, of a society becoming even more disconnected, we really need that.

Alistair Wilkinson / Creative Director of Wolab

When I first read RAINER, I was blown away by Max’s ability to light a fire in my imagination. His story touches my heart in a way most plays are unable to; it is a powerful call to action to support people who are often shunned by society. The story is one for all generations; those that struggle to find their place in a city that says it embraces them. RAINER is all of us in some ways, and I hope that audiences will engage with her story of hope and struggle. It will shine a light on those voices unheard and raise the platform of the people we relied so heavily on during the pandemic. Delivery food drivers are unsung heroes, and this play showcases them as individuals. Max’s play, under Nico’s brilliant direction and Sorcha’s extraordinary performance – where she plays over forty characters with sublime precision – will become a modern-day classic. I’m sure of it.

WoLab is a working laboratory for artists to create, providing performance makers of all experiences with the opportunity to have a go. We have spent the pandemic developing 11 new pieces of work through various series of research and development. Eventually, the time came to put on one of those works, and we are thrilled that it is RAINER. The artists involved are the epitome of what we strive to support; people who are hard-working, talented and inspiring change-makers. Their enthusiasm is contagious and makes us up our game at every corner. RAINER is a celebration of London and all its inhabitants. As one of London’s leading organisation focusing on talent development, it was essential to programme this piece as part of our slate, and we look forward to hearing all of the audience’s reactions as they watch this phenomenal story come to life.


Rainer runs at the Arcola from 1 – 18 June. Book now!


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