When the Rain Stops Falling

 Review: When the Rain Stops Falling by Steve Barrett

 Black Swan State Theatre Company

  edited by Rachael Hains-Wesson and Carol Ryles


nullIt's 2039 and it’s been raining for days when a fish falls from the sky, landing at Gabriel York’s feet (Steve Turner). Against the pitter-patter of non-stop rain, this dishevelled, hopeless man, a runaway father begins to prepare lunch for a son that he hasn’t seen for years. He begins to piece together a long family history of tragedy, loss, and isolation via a neurotic opening monologue. This allows the audience to slowly piece together four generations of interconnected stories and various places, from a small London City household to the wide expanse of the Coorong in South Australia to where the final resolution eventually takes place: Alice Springs. This script is an English teacher’s dream, because it’s full of allusions, patterns and symbolic elements. When the Rain Stops Falling is also a story that channels the cyclical nature of other epic narratives such as Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Despite the obvious challenges of keeping track of the various characters throughout the overlapping scenes, the cast provide a wonderful sense of intrigue and sorrow, with uniformly terrific performances. Particular credit must go to Scott Sheridan, who infused both Gabriel Law and Andrew Price with a genuine sense of curiosity and desire to uncover the truth. Alison van Reeken as the younger Elizabeth Law was another standout. Black Swan has boldly produced a confusing, deeply unsettling, but ultimately rewarding piece of theatre. Technically, this play is also a treat. Fantastic lighting by Trent Suidgeest beautifully captures the different moods of the vast, lonely outback as well as the claustrophobic inner-city London apartment. There are wonderful uses of costume that the characters apply in order to switch between different time periods. Additionally, the excellent work by Bryan Woltjen who designed the highly effective restrained set deserves a mention; alongside the sound designer (Ben Collins) who was able to elevate the feelings of nostalgia, loss, and grief that pervaded throughout much of the theatre space.

While at times this play was heavy-going and disturbingly bleak, it was still a terrific piece of theatre. The show does take some time before the relationships between each character become clear, but when the strands of these numerous stories begin to intertwine (and especially in the final half hour) the production evokes raw power and loss – loss of innocence, childhood and of the family. When the Rain Stops Falling deals with troubled legacies and the inability to let go of the past as its core themes, but ultimately it’s the incessant pitter-patter of the rain and the improbable fish that falls from the sky that leaves one to think long beyond the drive home.

When the Rain Stops Falling by Black Swan Theatre Company is now showing at the State Theatre Centre, William St, Perth from the 29th of October till the 13th of November, 2011.

About Steve Barrett

Steve is completing a combined Science/Arts degree at The University of Western Australia and is part of Trove's student-editorial team.