Sunday, March 22, 2015

When The Rain Stops Falling

New Theatre presents, WHEN THE RIAN STOPS FALLING, by Andrew Bovell, at the New Theatre, King St., Newtown. 17 March - 18 April, 2015.

This production of Andrew Bovell's WHEN THE RAIN STOPS FALLING, at the New Theatre left me in a gratified mood of semi-euphoria. I saw the original Brink Theatre production in the Drama Theatre, at the Sydney Opera House, in 2009, and rated it has one of the great experiences of new Australian writing I had had for a long time. Seeing the New Theatre's more modest production does not diminish that memory in any way, and more than enhances my impression that this is a great Australian play.

Photo by Bob Seary

It was the play that knocks one happily into a state of awe. Although woven around the death of a child and pedophilia, the effects of Alzheimer's disease and the serious issue of climate change, the structure, the thematic connections to the mysteries of time, myths and universalities of the history of the human species is what impresses one and leaves one in a state of wonder, from the moment of a fish falling from the heavens at a character's feet, in Alice Springs, to its gentle ending.

The original Brink Theatre production was meticulously prepared by some great practising artists and the long 'gestation' of that work is, partly, what gave the original production its depth of power and wonder. More modestly, the New Theatre production, under the respectful guidance of a young Director, Rachel Chant, with some sterling Set Design By Tom Bannerman, (Set/Costume Design, Martelle Hunt) supported by the growing powers of the recently very busy Lighting designer, Benjamin Brockman, and the, similarly, prolific Sound Designer Composer, Nate Edmondson (a score much more effective than the recent offer of CARESS/ACHE), assisted by Alistair Wallace, triumphs.

The actors are uniformly strong in the good sense and restrained integrity of the characterisations and careful and clear storytelling: David Woodland, Helen Tonkin, Renae Small, Peter McAllum, Olivia Brown, Hailey McQueen and Tom Conroy. A beautifully sensitised ensemble of actors.

After a time of relative disappointment in my theatre going experiences, of late, this production lifted some of my gloom and 'dread' of going, and I can confidently recommend reward in seeing it. On the night I attended, many people had not seen the original production and did not know the play, or had only read it. It is their discovery of a great Australian play in this respectful and dedicated production that, generally, pleased, if not, thrilled them.

If you have seen the play it is worth being re-engaged. If you are unacquainted with WHEN THE RAIN STOPS FALLING, and you love the theatre, this is a gentle but heart-stopping, life enhamncing must see.

Do go.

1 comment:

John said...

This was my first viewing of a play that I knew to have quite a reputation. My primary reaction was one of considerable disappointment.
For much of its length I was struck by how frequently Mr Bovell avoids confrontation between his characters. A great deal of what we understand about these people and their communities is revealed through accounts of events or past experiences that the characters that when a real dramatic tussle takes place - when we see characters actually FIGHT before our eyes for something, as when a woman pleads with her husband for help and understanding in bringing an end to her moribund life - it comes as something of a surprise. Hitherto what we have had - to a great extent - are monologues, long explanations, recollections...even the first clinch between two appealing young people who have been circling a little shyly around each other is revealed to us as 'something that has happened'...we get a scene where they discuss the fact that they have become lovers, rather than one where we see someone make a bold move or someone finally yield to irresistible temptation. I felt several times that I was watching something that ought to have been a novel or maybe a short story. And I could not see the value in the repeated motifs and verbal imagery and the dreary dialogue, which unfortunately the production emphasises with its ritual patterns of movement, the slowness of nearly everything and the portentous score. And was such dim lighting necessary for nearly every scene? The cast is a very talented one, and I am sure I will remember such contributions as Hailey McQueen's in the moment of her character's greatest shock, and Olivia Brown's as she creates for us her character's rare gutsiness and later the enduring affection for her husband. But although Mr Bovell is clearly a writer unafraid of taking on big themes and subjects, I did not feel convinced or compelled by the world that he created.