Arts Review: When the Rain Stops Falling

Dir. Katherine Nesbitt, Tron Theatre, 4th-7th Feb

When the Rain Stops Falling by Andrew Bovell is brought to the Tron by Makeshift Theatre Company. It spans four generations of family drama from London in the 1950s to the Australian outback in 2039. The skeletons in the families’ closets are revealed gradually throughout the play, with the connections between them only made clear in the final scenes. While the loose ends are waiting to be tied up, we are transported away by the compelling acting of the six performers as they explore the psychological states of unfulfilled parents and abandoned children.

Gabriel York (Robert Benison) opens the play with a monologue reflecting upon the mistake he made in leaving his son, Andrew. His acting is first rate in portraying his genuine emotional turmoil as is that of the other actors some of whom are wrought to tears on stage.

The comedic side of the play is largely due to Jane Black’s portrayal of the bitter touch-me-not Elizabeth Law whose hilariously disagreeable attitude and demeanour are much later explained by the suffering she has undergone in her efforts to protect her son Gabriel from the paedophilic tendencies of his father Henry. The comedic rapport between her and her grown son brings a touching perspective on the relationship between mother and son as well as establishing the amenable and loving nature of Gabriel York Senior (Alan MacKenzie).

This same character has a romantic affair with a girl of an equally broken family background that is profoundly moving in its sincerity of intention and endeavour. The relationship is tragically doomed as the couples’ pasts catch up with them and tear apart their new-found joy, allowing for the exploration of another type of misery – that of the unfulfilling marriage which the heartbroken Gabrielle now experiences with her new partner, Joe (John Michael-Love).

The play is thoughtfully crafted with repetition of proverbs and fables throughout to remind us of the links in the family tree. It begins and ends with a scream of desperation that creates a sense of return at the closure of events.

If not the most light-hearted of plays, this is more than made up for by the thought-provoking dialogue and portrayal of relationships tempered by black humour and quirky underlying themes. Throughout the play, the acting is commendable, supported by atmospheric use of lighting and sound. All in all, a unique and profoundly moving play which will keep you guessing until the end and thinking for days to come.

[Kathy Carr]

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