I went back to the Sydney Theatre Company last night, after seeing a few awesome things there, and went and saw When The Rain Stops Falling Last night at the Drama Theatre. It’s a new work by Andrew Bovell, of Lantana fame, so there was certainly a lot to expect. It’s a little bit like that movie, actually.
When The Rain Stops falling, superficially, follows a number of couples, through the 1960s to 2039, covering their ups and downs and seeing how much things change over time and how little they really do. A few things change in the world during that time, such as, by 2039, fish are extinct, but really, not that much changes between men and women.
All the couples on stage end up bickering and talking clearly, loudly, about the things that worry them. One woman is pregnant and wants to get an abortion. Another man goes to Australia to find his roots, and meets a girl at the same time. There’s of course nothing tying the story lines together, other than seeing how circumstances change and don’t change us. Bovell leaves lots of space on stage (thanks to a terrific airy and well designed set) and in the words to let the actors talk slowly and just let them sink into the audience’s ears. At the beginning of the play, we don’t know why we’re seeing all these couples in the play together, other than, well, they talk about the same things, and have the same lives, despite the times.
Bovell brings on a really great Australian story, taking a look at the historic ties of English born Australians, and giving a real character to every person on stage. It’s a well formed story about real Australians, something people can relate to. In the beginning, we don’t understand why family is important, but it turns out, by 2039, we understand that all these people are tied together as a family, and that there are many dark secrets that can be unraveled in the past.
It’s really terrifying to see which way the play goes, but along the way, there’s plenty of really touching moments, the sort of things that you want to believe Australia is like like. Gritty, tough, beautiful, and magical. Part of the play is in Alice Springs, at uluru: the visual singularities in this country. Places that all Australians know, but really aren’t a part of. There’s a certain simplistic escapism with some of the characters, for instance a young woman, at a roadhouse in the country, staring out a window; We all want to believe theres people like that around, but I doubt there are.
By the end of the play, things resolve: Andrew, who we don’t meet, finds out why his family is so broken, and what in his history has fractured his youth so much.
I guess overall, it’s very similar to Lantana: A deeply troubling, enchanting drama that comes together really well. The characters speak for themselves, and the great acting carries the show. It’s worth watching, but it’s really heavy going at times, and not a play for someone thats looking for a simple entertaining night out on the town.