The Rainmaker, Bog Theatre. The drought shows no sign of ending, crops and livestock are dying, and tempers are short. On top of all that, Lizzie Curry appears doomed to be an old maid despite the efforts of her father and brothers to lasso her a husband. Then a sweet-talking stranger arrives promising to make rain–for a fee. And any audience member doubting that Starbuck will deliver on his promise wouldn’t recognize a metaphor if it fell out of the sky.

There are two keys to an audience’s enjoyment of N. Richard Nash’s 1954 comedy: a willingness to be charmed by the con artist and a firm belief in fulfillment through marriage–an idea once taken for granted. If we don’t have an emotional investment in both, this romantic fable of spiritual liberation will come across as annoyingly shallow.

Under the direction of Daniel Scott, however, Nash’s quaint notions seem freshly minted, and the Bog Theatre actors deliver intelligent, engaging, committed performances (if a bit rocky on opening night). Daniel Tomko is suitably smooth-tongued as Starbuck. And Ed Westfall, Philip Myers, and Fred Haas share some nice ensemble scenes as Lizzie’s father and brothers. But the show belongs to Cheryl Lynn Golemo as Lizzie: her spun-silk blend of strength and sensitivity has us rooting for this humble princess from the outset.

–Mary Shen Barnidge