When the Rain Stops Falling is an epic jigsaw of a play. One by one it lays out its pieces, which span generations and hemispheres. First, we study a man alone in rural Australia, pining for his daughter and puzzling over a seemingly miraculous fish. But the narrative doesn’t settle here and suddenly we’re off – scanning fragment after fragment. A troubled, tight-lipped British family ostensibly decades prior to the opening scene; a young man with burning questions about his past. All scenes seemingly disparate, yet carrying echoes of each other, and united by an unending torrent of rain. The challenge for the audience: how do all of these pieces fit together?
Sedos’ production does a wonderful job leading us through the puzzle, ensuring the experience treads the right line of mystery without confusion. Often scenes overlap slightly, the characters occupying the same physical space as another, temporally different, scene comes to a close. This is clever storytelling: as one narrative thread is laid, another is gently woven into it. This device hints at the connection between the stories that we’re yet to discover, and it also keeps the pace fresh. It reaches its height as we watch Elizabeth Law the younger (Marina Norman) uncover the shameful secret of her husband (played boomingly by David Pearson). All the while Elizabeth’s older self (Audrey Lindsay) sits immersed in this, her memory – a poised picture of grief at the centre of a storm. These connections are enjoyable to watch.
Of particular note is the immense production value of this ‘amateur’ show. The borderless set supports well the fluidity of the piece as it drifts across time and space. The lighting is inventive and atmospheric, accenting the narrative structure with flickering lights as we cross a boundary into a different storyline and providing starry nights in the Australian outback. Music is used deftly throughout the piece, binding the different worlds with a perpetual stormy underscore and swelling cinematically at key moments. These all came together well to elevate the show into the relatively cavernous space at the Bridewell.
At times, the depth of the space worked against the piece, and I felt a little disconnected from the action. Monologues in particular were at risk of getting lost amidst the space and against the score of the play. These moments may have benefitted from being pulled downstage, or the actors having more freedom to look at the audience to bring them in. Though often, the physicality of the actors’ work was sufficient to keep me engaged (Karla Ptacek in particular). I occasionally got the impression that parts could have benefitted from more rehearsal time, or accent work.
Overall though, this was a solid production of a challenging play. A memorable final tableau provides a deserving and well-earned pay-off. Each character assembled on stage, each piece of the jigsaw settled snugly into place. When the Rain Stops Falling is a skilful piece of storytelling.
Written by: Andrew Bovell
Directed by: Helena Bumpus
Produced by: Adam Coppard
Movement by: Kim Barker
Lighting by: Olly Levett
Sound by: Adam Lockett
When The Rain Stops Falling plays at Bridewell Theatre until 26 February. Further information and booking via the below link.