A-Typical Rainbow

‘Who had a better ending, Peter or Wendy?’ This is a question JJ Green invites us to ponder in A-Typical Rainbow, a powerful story about a boy growing up with autism and how it affects him. In this show we are introduced to the worlds and realities that Boy (JJ Green) inhabits. Directed by Bronagh Lagan, everything about this show is magical, and the vibrancy of the language is reflected onstage, all of which perfectly melds together and creates an incredibly rich production.

powerful, emotional and enchanting

This is an incredibly raw and honest piece. It is hard not to be drawn into Boy’s world and to feel what he feels onstage. We experience what he does, from mermaids to wolves, brought to life before our eyes, not only by the action onstage but by Max Alexander-Taylor’s sound design, the lighting by Bethany Gupwell and sophisticated video design by Matt Powell, all of which builds on Green’s words and overwhelms our senses to the point where we can almost reach out and touch them. Never has there been a production where the tech and the action onstage have come together so seamlessly into one, to create a reality that we can only feel privileged to see. Neurodivergence is explained and portrayed in ways that are accessible and in a way that has never been seen before. A-typical Rainbow is more realistic, more easily accessible and portrays neurodivergence without resorting to problematic explanations and behaviour.

The cast guide us through the narrative and add to the immediacy of the piece, where the lines between us and the action blur. Taking on more than one role is not easy, but the cast manage to make each character distinct from another, and we can see and appreciate the time and talent that went into developing them into the well-rounded and interesting characters that they are onstage. In doing so, there is a lot of demand placed on the cast, but they make everything appear as easy and natural as breathing.

In moments filled with bouts of humour and vulnerability, Green is our guide throughout. His writing is incredibly clever and powerfully descriptive, drawing us in, before breaking our hearts. He paints pictures that mesmerise, leading us every step of the way. Green talks to us in a way that we can’t help but relate to, and use to reflect on ourselves and our own experiences. The moment in which Boy cannot access his worlds and resorts to singing his comfort song to himself is one of the most heart-wrenching moments to grace a stage, and it is a moment that we cannot help but shed tears at. Caroline Deverill’ performance as Mother gives us a point of view that we most likely have never experienced or thought about before. Like Green, Deverill’s performance is authentic, and it is hard to distinguish where Mother begins and Deverill ends. There are moments of genuine affection between her and Green especially, and they are some of the most heart-warming of the show. Throughout her performance there is a certain fierceness that is just beautiful. There are stereotypes about mothers and motherhood, but none of them could apply to Deverill’s performance because what she does surpasses them. An incredibly powerful presence on the stage, it is an honour to see Deverill bring life to this character.

Powerful, emotional and enchanting, A-typical Rainbow brings a lot of light into the world, a light that people can be drawn to and relate. Green’s writing is something else entirely, a rare talent that needs to be treasured and exalted. In a world that often punishes difference, A-Typical Rainbow celebrates it, and will definitely help a lot of people in the process.

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Reviews by Katerina Partolina Schwartz

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Since you’re here…

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Performances

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The Blurb

Boy has always seen the world differently from most people. They see in monochrome; he sees in vivid and brilliant technicolour.

As Boy grows up, he faces increasing pressure to conform to the black and white logic of the 'real' world, a way of thinking that doesn't make sense, and forces him to suppress his unique and beautiful view of life.

A-Typical Rainbow is the World Premiere debut play by autistic writer JJ Green that asks: could a kinder, more joyful world lie at the end of the rainbow

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