8 March 2015 | bob the moo
S1: Plenty to like, but there are almost too many good ideas here for them to work in such a small space – and unfortunately it doesn't play out as well as it should
This webseries is in two parts, with each half of the season focusing on a different couple of actors. In most of the short episodes the structure is the same, which is that we see them perform a scene which ends with them kissing (in-character) in the rain. The scene then cuts to setup to go again, during which time we then see the two actors (out of character) waiting for their part.
I have quickly become a fan of Shipwrecked Comedy, partly due to loving most of the short films that Kuang has done over the last years; as a result I binged my way through this webseries – although doing so did mean less than an hour of watching since they are only a few minutes long each. For both the of the narrative arcs and for the overall structure, there are two things going on – the first is that a romantic scene in some period or literature plays out fairly straight, always ending with the kissing as per the title. The second is that after the cut we get to see behind the scenes, with the two actors no longer in their character and having to talk like real people, despite seconds before having been kissing and declaring passionate adoration to one another. Within this second section is where we get some comedy due to this sudden change, but also we get to see the relationship between the two actors change across their episodes.
There is a lot of potential here but unfortunately it doesn't come off, and I think it is down to not being totally focused on what they are trying to do, and also having too little time to do it in – the latter being the key issue. In terms of the opening parts of each episodes, these are well made but they have the problem that they are just the frame, so beyond them generally being presented on-point, they are mainly just to get us out of the scene and into what I think was the main body of the series – the "real" people outside the scene. Unfortunately for most cases, the build-up to the kissing is the majority of the running time, leaving less for the other material.
The actors themselves are much more interesting. At first I enjoyed the humor of the awkwardness, and then I could see the episodes trying to draw a line of relationship for us to move along – ultimately for both ending up in their own "kissing in the rain" moment. This is a nice idea but it doesn't come off. In terms of the comedy, the joke is essentially the same each time (we go from kissing to awkward in a blink of an eye) and this puts more pressure on the relationship to deliver. The time given to do this in each episode, plus the low number of episodes to go from dislike through to kissing is very challenging and it doesn't totally pull it off. The first half of the season had more success I thought, but even then it is rushed and doesn't feel real in the way it could have done. I have greatly enjoyed Kuang and the Shipwrecked team do this type of romantic-but-knowing material well in other places, so I guess here it is the time and structure that works against it doing so here.
The cast and crew all seem to enjoy themselves. Wiles and Sean Persaud work well together and both have that nice chemistry that helps the material. I enjoyed Sinead Persaud too – particularly reprising her Lenore role, while Graham was good with her. Technically the episodes are all very well made; it is well worth looking into the "making of" videos too – they are interesting to see how things were done for very little money, so although the rain doesn't always look like rain, it is still very well constructed and delivered within constraints.
Kissing in the Rain is a very good idea, and the material falls nicely into the area that Kuang is strong in, it is just here with the constraints of time per episode and number of episodes, it doesn't totally work as a whole. I would love to see the idea expanding into either a longer webseries, or as one longer film focused on one couple, because here it was more about what it could have been rather than what it was.