Reviewed by Angus Bhattacharya.
Andrew Bovell’s When the Rain Stops Falling is one of the best plays I have seen in recent memory. Memory being the theme to which this story of almost inescapable sadness is centred. It’s also about loss, isolation, powerlessness, connection and the inevitable marching on of time toward the end of the world. The EUTC’s production - directed by Lucy Davidson - does the script justice for the vast majority of its runtime.
The narrative runs through several settings of time and location in England and Australia between 1959 and 2039. These interweave throughout, and in several points the older and younger versions of certain characters perform together on stage in quite beautiful memory sequences - these are points where Davidson’s direction really comes on strong. There is a projection at the back wall signifying which timeline is currently being watched and images showing the setting: a sunset over barren cliffs for the Coorong in South Australia, or rows of grey houses for London. It is effective and the story is conveyed through every aspect of the staging: from the lighting, to the costume and the pipeline installed in the rigging where real (and freezing) rain cascades on to the stage. The music and sound used at specific times also add to a melancholic immersion.
The initial monologue where Gabriel York, played by Barney Rule, in 2039 tells the audience of his life of solitude, and calls the miraculous event – a fish falling from the sky – the best thing that’s ever happened in his life, sets the tone for the bleakness which pervades the narrative. Barney Rule sets the performance bar very high and he delivers this first speech with a tender nervousness showing the affects of years of isolation. The syntax in this monologue is reprised throughout the play and each time the lines are heard again the audience gains new understanding of just how tragic the circumstances are. Praise should be given to the entire ensemble in terms of acting, although at times the Australian accents were slightly shaky. However, the scenes where the most important aspects of the plot are revealed, the most tragic elements take over and the connection between every character is highlighted, all the actors shine. These moments felt like being stabbed in the heart and I can’t deny the tears that were in my eyes.
Overall, the cast and crew created an excellent, memorable and stirring production. All involved should be very proud.