By Kiana Emmett
A whirlwind story transcending place and time about the inherent complexities of family relationships.
Presented by Iron Lung Theatre and Theatreworks, Andrew Bovell’s When The Rain Stops Falling tells the story of two conjoined families through four generations, grappling with the secrets and stories that inextricably bind their families together. The production uses climate change and weather as a descriptor and representation of the tensions the two families face.
Andrew Bovell’s writing is nuanced, dark and shows the full depth of flawed characters dripping with humanity. The intricate weaving of naturalistic and non-naturalistic writing is refreshing and brilliant.
Briony Dunn’s direction is exquisite. She brings so much out of her actors and the result is direct, detailed work. Her staging creates a knowingness among the audience, helping them to feel almost complicit in the actions of the characters, even when they are hearing about said actions for the first time. The venue seems like the perfect choice, with the more intimate setting Theatreworks provides aiding the production through making the audience feel more readily involved in what was happening.
The set design by Greg Clarke feels like the perfect blank canvas for this story to be etched upon. The minimalistic set with ‘Off-White’ coloured walls emphasises the stark intellectual wasteland the characters are navigating themselves through. The projections of Uluru are a smart choice in theory, as they gave the landmark the grandiosity that it evokes in the text, but in execution, I found them a little out of place.
As someone who hadn’t seen this show prior to this production, the writing was thoroughly intellectually stimulating and is one of the most brilliant pieces of writing I’ve witnessed on stage. This production treads the line of taking on deep and dark material and making it more palatable for an audience, whilst still challenging them mentally.
The ambience created in the theatre through constant music and/or white noise creates an unsettled atmosphere, and, while an unsettled audience is not always desirable, I felt this was a positive, helping to maintain interest and engagement through the dense and heavy two-hour-long show with no interval.
Performances were strong throughout, with the leader of the company Francis Greenslade being utterly captivating as Gabriel York and Law. Although the production steers heavily away from comedy, Greenslade creates light and shade in his performance, eliciting a few laughs amongst the serious and thought-provoking tone of the show. Another highlight was Esther van Doornum, who was strong as Young Elizabeth, with her pinpoint accuracy and delivery raising the stakes of the production immensely. The show is an incredible ensemble piece, with an equally incredible cast to execute it. Bovell’s writing is in safe hands.
When the Rain Stops Falling is an intellectually stimulating, at times overwhelmingly clever, production full of stellar performances, and is a must see.
When the Rain Stops Falling is running at Theatreworks through March 18.
Tickets can be purchased here: https://www.theatreworks.org.au/2023/when-the-rain-stops-falling
Photo by Joshn Wayn