Theatre Review: When The Rain Stops Falling, Judith Wright Centre (27.05.16)

In a very brief yet consuming experience, much like the turn of many events in our lives, Judith Wright Centre became the space for Andrew Bovell’s When The Rain Stops Falling for the weekend only. THAT Production Company based in Ipswich presented the show and made it through the challenge of capturing the fluidity of time and space that Bovell’s work has created like a rift in time’s fabric and not just merely a play.

The stage is presented flawlessly as a set of concentric circles, which as the show progresses we find actually move and rotate. But the crowd at the Judy wasn’t to be fooled. The gyrating stage wasn’t a gimmick or spectacle for the sake of celebrating a very successful Pozible campaign that funded the show.

The concentric circles represented something bigger in the story. The ripple effect of generations before and generations to come for one, the sad but true fact that you can change the time and the place but people are the same, hardships are the same, sadness and regrets are the same.

The blocking that followed this rotating stage was impeccable. A shiver ran through the front row at the idea that a young Elizabeth Law stares at the window, turning and turning around a much older, solemn Elizabeth Law staring down a glass of wine like the barrel of a gun, lingering in that very same memory.

The performance presented time quite differently like little dioramas set on a rotating wheel. It brings back themes of Kurt Vonnegut’s Tralfamadorian race, that teach Vonnegut’s characters that a time and place are not linear but all in the same spot. Humans merely don’t have the ability to slide between these time spaces like turning a dial on a radio.

There are no aliens featured in Bovell’s story of course. But humans who have lost touch can even worse and much more frightening. David Paterson’s portrayal of Gabriel York and Henry Law grow over time. In the first moments of monologue there was a hesitation with the audience members. But the melodrama quickly drizzled down the windows and off the stage, and a haunting representation of a man losing himself and his son twice over as history repeats itself slowly rises out of the puddles.

Yet in many ways it was the two Gabrielles, Lauren Roche and Lisa Hickey, that stole the show. In them you could see a clear resemblance, and a seed of madness and disappointment that had grown into a gnarled and sickly tree over the decades.

Another beautiful element of the show is Bovell’s ability to intertwine the Australian identity into compelling storytelling. Capturing the essence of loss and fear in those quiet, out of town parts of this expansive country is a feat imbedded in the sands of our beaches, the shrubbery off the road and the charcoal roots of every tree. As the stage physically rotates, the tale itself rotates around Uluru as a signpost of history. In one of the final scenes when Gabriel York is blanketed in the millions of stars, it shines back the millions of stories unheard.

Though short-lived, THAT Production Company’s production of When The Rain Stops Falling is a brilliant example of taking a great text and not wasting it. The cast and crew were given enriched soil full of nutrients like plot arcs and history, and minerals like brilliant characters and haunting allegories and they knew exactly how to reap that soil for a fantastic performance.

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When The Rain Stops Falling has finished its run at the Judith Wright Centre. More information about THAT Production Company and upcoming productions can be found here.

The reviewer attended the May 25 performance.