When the Rain Stops Falling
Caroline Jenner | 23 Feb 2022 14:25pm
The date is 2039 and Gabriel York, sits in a run down apartment in Alice Springs, listening to the rain and waiting for the arrival of his daughter, Andrea, who he hasn’t seen since he abandoned the family when his daughter was a child. A fish has just dropped from the sky. Meanwhile in London in 1959 Elizabeth Law, is waiting for her husband Henry, to come home so she can tell him she is pregnant with the child who will grow up to be the grandfather of Gabriel York. Through a complicated set of plot twists, twenty-two scenes which move inextricably between the past and the present with no obvious linear structure, Andrew Bovell’s When the Rain Stops Falling is a play that considers both the consequences of parental legacy alongside the environmental destruction of our planet.
Sedos have once again managed to gather a group of talented performers who embrace the challenges of this complex narrative where younger and older versions of the same character share the acting space. Audrey Lindsay and Marina Norman are particularly strong as the older and younger Elizabeth Law, who loves her husband despite his paedophilia. We see her decline into alcoholism as she protects her son from the knowledge of who his father is, her fears that motherhood is not for her and the inability to tell her son she loves him until after he is dead. All of this complexity is superbly shown by the two actresses playing the role.
Also of note the older Gabrielle York, Karla Ptacek, whose sensitive portrayal of an aging woman with dementia, whose whole life has been overshadowed by an event in her childhood, is exceptional. However, this is an ensemble piece, with all cast on stage at all times. Their seamless joining up of the scenes as they move through time and space is brilliantly executed and allows the audience to follow the complexity of the plot with ease.
The multifunctional set with hanging window, large oval table and useful blocks either side of the stage, provide the perfect vehicle to allow the scenes to flow seamlessly between past and present. The beautifully choreographed opening when the cast move from the gallery, armed with umbrellas and coats that are deposited on a hat stand, the simplicity of the costumes which suit the period and keep the audience aware as the scenes move through time, all worked together to help create a show that totally engages the audience.
It is the sound and lighting, however, that really draw together the different threads and keep us aware of the fact that this is a play whose themes resonate through the generations. The constant sound of rain underscores the performance so effectively that you almost forget it is there, until suddenly there is a flash of lightning and a roll of thunder. Alongside some beautiful gobos and snow effects Olly Levett and Adam Lockett also entranced the audience with their original music and starry Australian night sky.
Bovell’s play is not for the faint hearted and it is to the credit of the performers, director Helena Bumpus and assistant director, Lloyd Smith, that by the end of the production, as all the characters gather together, the loose ends have been woven in and we see the complete picture. A fractured world where children have to come to terms with inherited secrets, betrayal and abandonment while at the same time they are seeking to find forgiveness and a connection between the past and present.