When The Rain Stops Falling @ Tron Theatre
When The Rain Stops Falling travels in time and place seamlessly, using simple umbrella sign-posts to take us between London and Australia, from the late 1950s to the near future in 2039, all following the intersecting lives of two families as secrets are unravelled across the generations.
Behind the action is the constant rainfall, which roots the audience into the scenes. Its symbolism is clear, though a touch heavy handed at the play’s close. The characters are connected by their simple, white umbrellas and raincoats, appearing at first quite clinical. This atmosphere unravels as the crux of the relationships between characters and the emotions come to the fore.
As a strained mother and son in 1980s London, Jane Black (older Elizabeth Law) and Alan MacKenzie (young Gabriel Law) are heartrending. Their scene is the heart of the play; pulling us back into Elizabeth’s past as we find out why Gabriel’s father mysteriously left, and pushing him forwards to Australia, where he meets the troubled Gabrielle York.
The disconnected narrative jumping from timezone to timezone gives the audience understanding before the characters themselves. Andrew Bovell’s script is clever, the repeating lines and themes between characters show how habits are passed down, and how cyclical the world can be, all around a pot of fish soup.
However, it is not always handled and delivered with the care and emotion required. Some choices made by Serena Day (the older Gabrielle York) and John Michael-Love (Joe Ryan) seem to distance the audience too much from their characters. Although Michael-Love’s touching letters delivered as monologues to his son do pull out the required emotion, the two together do not connect enough to be convincing.
As Henry Law, the disappearing father, Robert Benison’s downfall is carefully crafted, but it is the bite of Camille Marmié as the young Elizabeth which holds their scenes together. In 2039 as Gabriel York, Benison’s Australian accent slips noticeably, and his long speeches don’t quite hold the gravitas the text deserves.
It is an emotional play, that carefully handles a difficult subject matter, but is let down in some places by a performance that doesn’t quite stand up to Bovell’s heartbreaking script.