The Umbrella Story, Spring-time Productions, Lyric Theatre, APA August 9 What is the use of an umbrella if there is no rain? Not a lot. Likewise, what is a theatre production about an umbrella business - which revolves around turbulent weather, local history and human relationships - if it lacks a stormy and dramatic atmosphere? Rather dull. Thanks to award-winning playwright Raymond To Kwok-wai's heart-rending script and sophisticated shower system, this Spring-time production has successfully brought both drama and several black rainstorm warning-style downpours (literally) on to the stage. Based on the real-life Leung So Kee - an umbrella factory and shop that opened by the Leung family in Guangzhou in 1886 and folded a century later in Hong Kong - The Umbrella Story is not only about the three children of patriarch Leung So but about the 'ordinary people' who lived through the turbulent times of the war-torn mainland and Hong Kong. Narrated by Leung's grandson Cheong-wah (Chung Yat-ming), the drama opens on the streets of 19th-century Guangzhou. Leung (Ben Ding) is a hard-working peasant. His fortunes take a dramatic turn when he runs into a gweilo who leaves him an umbrella after a skirmish. Having realised that Western brollies are of better quality than those made locally, Leung decides to produce imitations of the metal-frame black umbrellas, with a life-long warranty. Leung's business soon takes off and the story quickly shifts its focus to his three children: the earnest Tin-chi (Tse Kwan-ho); charming Tin-yau (William Lo); the beautiful Mei-kiu (Chiu Woon); and their lovers. Tragedy strikes the family when Tin-yau is paralysed after being tortured during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, during which his wife, Sau-ling, is killed. Actor Tse makes his directional debut in this, Spring-time's seventh stage production. While the acting is solid and the special effects impressive, The Umbrella Story has too much to tell. There are so many colourful characters and plots that the script reads better as a novel. While some scenes are over-sentimental, others lack impact. In a way, the rainy scenes outshine the drama itself.