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Review - When the Rain Stops Falling: well told and portrayed

When the Rain Stops Falling

Presented by Judith Wright Centre & THAT Production Company

Written by Andrew Bovell

Directed by Timothy Wynn

Judith Wright Centre

Brunswick Street

Fortitude Valley

Season has ended

When the Rain Stops Falling is set in the year 2039 in Alice Springs. It is raining. Gabriel York is out to buy food for lunch when a fish falls out of the sky and lands at his feet. This strange event unravels into a kaleidoscope of memories that takes us backwards and forwards from 1962 to 1988 and 2039 (and other years in between) that connect two families in ways no-one sees coming.

It is a very cleverly contrived play about the human interactions of relationships and how one person’s actions affect others and sometimes complete strangers. It is also strange how a piece of driftwood, an empty urn, a hat, postcards, a book written in French and a little boy’s shoe all tie together events that occur to the two families, but they do.

David Paterson plays Henry Law and his grandson, Gabriel York. Gabriel is not in a good place. He lives in a one bedroom bed sit in Alice Springs and has been contacted by his estranged son, Andrew Price. He is out buying lunch when the fish falls out of the sky.

This is a miracle because he thought fish were extinct and if they are not, they cost a year’s working man’s wages to purchase. He has also realised how shabby the bed sit looks and sets about cleaning it from top to bottom, only to stand back and think it still looks the same. So he paints and paints and paints, still to have only the same effect, except it is now a bit whiter.

The play is very wordy, the same phrases are repeated throughout the generations by different characters, lending to the impression that they have somehow been handed down. The depressive circumstances each character finds themselves in, also seem to get handed down to the next generation, as well as the emotional baggage each generation unwittingly and perhaps, unknowingly, also hand on.

The year is 1962 and a young Henry Law and Elizabeth Law (Nicola Stewart) have just found out they are pregnant. Their son, Gabriel Law (Eamonn Clohesy, who also plays Andrew Price, Gabriel York’s son) grows up a child longing to know where he came from as his father has left when he was aged seven. Incidentally, as did Gabriel York to his own son, Andrew. He has found the postcards his father has written from Australia before he disappeared, and the writing on these postcards has become prophetic to him and he longs to understand their meaning.

So as not to divulge the plot and allow the audience to make the connections themselves, I will not say any more. The other characters in this play are the older Gabrielle York played by Lisa Hickey; the older Elizabeth Law played by Rachel Hunt, Joe Ryan played by David Knijnenburg and the younger Gabrielle York played by Lauren Roche. All of the actors were simply brilliant in their portrayal of their characters. I particularly liked David Paterson with his portrayal of Henry Law and David Knijnenburg as Joe Ryan. Each character is so poignant and they were each performed to a very high standard by a very talented cast.

This play reminded me of one of Tarantino’s movies – separate stories about different characters and only at the end do you see how they all connect to each other. The use of the stage in the round was used to great effect to move through the annals of time – the stage having three separate pieces so that central items could remain as they were while the outer ring moved characters. The only static pieces of prop were a four paned window on the outer ring, a black back drop and two frames and shelves either side, used for hat racks and soup plates.

Other props consisting of two interlocking tables and boxes that were used for seats were the only other major items used. To assist the audience, the year and scene (such as Henry and Elizabeth Law’s home) were projected on to the back drop, as was other scenery as was required.

I enjoyed this play. I was wondering early on where it was all going and how the various characters were all connected, but this is eventually revealed with some twists you don’t see coming. And on reflection, afterwards, the spiralling effect of Henry Law’s actions in leaving as he did would not have occurred, except for the silence and secrecy kept by a wife betrayed.

When the Rain Stops Falling is a marvellous play, well told and portrayed.

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