This is a show that is sumptuous to look at: the atmospheric lighting, projections of blue skies and clouds, the dancing, the synthetic 80s glamour which pervades the set and costumes. This artificiality also extends to the strangely deliberate acting and it’s easy to spend the first half of the production not really invested in the characters or story, just marvelling at the visual effects.
Set in a TV production company in 1989, Squally Showers gives the audience a glimpse into the lives of those who work there, as they reminisce after an unexpected death. Theirs is a world of shoulder-pads and corporate acronyms (‘NVI’ apparently stands for Non-Violent Intervention - as opposed, you assume, to the violent kind). It’s not necessarily an environment that inspires instant affection and the over-enunciating style of acting makes it even more difficult to warm to. I spent the majority of this show no more than mildly curious about the characters it introduced me to. There are some engaging moments: weather-girl Peggy’s passion for meteorology, expressed through the medium of dance, is a joy to watch and an overhead projector presentation about the Give and Take (G and T - yes, really) involved in a happy relationship is the unusual combination of grating and touching.
However, it’s not until quite near the end, when the emotions have finally risen to the surface, that things really start to get going. The audience is treated to surreal tableaux, demonstrations of love that gently but effectively tug at your insides and a fantastic dance sequence involving a Margaret Thatcher mask. This show is at its best when it expresses itself through dance and costume - while the very final lines of dialogue are surprisingly heartwarming, until then it’s only the visual side of the production that reaches out and grabs you.
You’ll enjoy yourself if you go and see this show. You’ll have a few laughs, a few smiles, it’ll be reasonably good fun. However, apart from the odd surprising or visually spectacular moment, it’s unlikely to make a lasting impression.