BWW Reviews: DON'T FEAR THE RAIN the Immersive Experience Miami Needs
A dire dystopia steeped in darkness after the sun is extinguished, an odyssey across South America to do battle with the spirit of darkness itself, and a post-technology world seem dark subject matter for a theatrical show. Giancarlo Rodaz's Don't Fear the Rain is anything but- rather, the young Miami scribe (one of the most promising minds of Miami's new scene) presents his original work as a white-knuckle-quick comedy romp, featuring an overly talented cast of characters and immersion rarely experienced in the south-Eastern scene.
Don't Fear the Rain was originated as a nearly two-hour musical presentation. Rodaz took his piece instead to the Micro Theatre of Miami, where shows are limited to a fifteen-minute performance schedule. The story follows the reincarnation of the sun and a fisherman seeking to conquer EL Nino and restore the Earth, meeting friends, foes, pirates, and robots along the way.
The kooky script and outlandishly large plot, honed into fifteen minutes, works criminally well- by no means should a show this comprehensive function under the time, and location, restraints. Those uninitiated to the Micro Theatre should know that the 'Theater' is a set of seven shipping containers for which the shows are allotted. Rodaz can allow no more than "about sixteen" audience members for each performance, as fitting more people against his cast could prove dangerous.
What a cast he presents. Each of the four players, having worked with Rodaz in the past, have broken through their limits to achieve an immersive experience and stable narrative doused in the absurd. Daniella Vazquez portrays Inti, the sun's newest iteration. Vasquez is buoyant with glee and the sass to foil Jose Vazquez (as the miserly and cynical Quicho). Playing the rest of the characters, the bubbly Isa Peña and Giorgio Volpe, almost indescribably funny from moment to moment. Peña's star turn is Casia, the emotionally confused android who survived thanks to a rain coat, and her fights with Quicho and his Casio melodica. Volpe, whom some may recognize, plays a chaotic list of characters with a Robin Williams-fury. From the pirate antagonist and his gender switching child, to the show stealing two-headed dragon (one of which is, of course, Scottish), Volpe's physicality and facial control are a sight to behold within the small space. In one performance, he dropped a knife into the crowd and used it to move the fight into the audience, and another showing, his bald cap made a similar escape. Volpe and Jose Vazquez have the comedic timing that works perfectly with Daniella Vazquez and Peña's sincerity and depth.
The small shipping container itself feels reminiscent of an Ars Nova theatrical home, in the vein of Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet or the new K-POP. Lining the walls with South American quilts, using hanging lights and globes, even lighting incense between shows, the container is a cozy home for each audience. The space opens you with warming embraces, and leaving feels as criminal as crawling out of bed in the morning. It's a show that's almost impossible to not see a second time, from the script, the atmosphere, and the reliably unpredictable humor of each cast member.
Don't Fear the Rain may have been incepted as a two hour musical, and perhaps one day that work will emerge, but as Rodaz's work stands now, the fifteen minute delight is like a smooth glass of scotch- smoky, warming, and in need of a second drink.
Don't Fear the Rain plays from September 21st - October 8th, from 8pm-11pm at half hour intervals. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door.