Rainbow Kiss is not for those averse to tragedy. Rather, Simon Farquhar’s story of obsessive love will satisfy viewers who like to fondle the gruesome elements of squalor that can invade ordinary lives.
It seems easy to be depressed in Farquhar’s Aberdeen, Scotland, which is rife with drugs, child prostitution, and suicide. The town is filled with wretched types: Before Keith (Peter Scanavino) has a sexual encounter with Shazza (Charlotte Parry) that will lead to his own undoing, he tells her a delicious piece of gossip about the woman who “marches about telling lampposts [to] fuck off”—she used to be a world-class musician, but lost her mind when her husband left her. Director Will Frears and the Play Company spare no grisly detail as Keith grows violently obsessed with Shazza, who refuses to be with him. No longer a delighted observer of other people’s tragedies, Keith now stars in his own, turning increasingly hysterical and bringing about two acts of bloodshed. Scanavino’s performance would be melodramatic if his frenzy were not so terrifying. Meanwhile, Robert Hogan as Murdo, Keith’s elderly neighbor, artfully provides a more touching and sympathetic portrait of despair.
The contrivance of a man completely unhinged by a brief love affair is never fully justified by the play, and themes of family and religious obligation are left undeveloped. But by embedding within Keith’s story the sad histories of other townspeople who have lost hope, Farquhar manages to successfully evoke the deterioration of an entire community.