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.