When The Rain Stops Falling (Festival page)
Brink Productions @ Scott Theatre
1:30pm, Wed 5 Mar 2008
Wednesday matinees always bring out a special kind of crowd – namely, the senior citizens and school groups. The former arrive way too early, clogging up entry to the Scott Theatre; the latter roll up just-in-time, exploding into the venue with a self-importance that is palpable. Luckily, someone has set the thermostat in the theatre to about 21 degrees, cooling off the hotheads and lulling the oldies deeper into subdued quietness.
A man comes onstage, front and centre. As transparent screens descend from the heavens to add some semblance of depth to the set, the cast drift from wing to wing behind him. Rain starts dripping in; a fish plummets to the man’s feet from above, landing with a startling thud. He picks up the fish, and we’re away – telling a familial tale spanning four generations & eighty years, from Alice Springs to The Coorong to London to Adelaide.
The storyline happily skips through the multiple timelines, returning to certain periods when it suits the unfolding story. This isn’t as disconcerting as it may sound; the plot is pretty straightforward, and certainly linear in its telling. We essentially just track the characters as their interactions beget the following generations; boy meets girl, marriage, kids, etc. There’s a few twists to the story that are gradually revealed, and interest is maintained throughout.
“But Pete,” I hear no-one but the voices in my head say, “you’re being very vague. Even vaguer than usual. What are you not telling us? Did you like it or not?”
Did I like it? Well… it was certainly engaging, and wonderfully performed; not a dud actor onstage. But – at the risk of letting loose with a rather big spoiler – there was one aspect of the story that I had massive problems with: the paedophilia. Now, I understand that it’s utterly crucial to the plot, but it still felt like a cheap emotive device – the easiest way to generate the maelstrom of emotions. Base; lazy, even. It just didn’t work for me.
Direction was also a little flawed. Most of the time the set was beautifully realised: simple tables and chairs, those lovely translucent screens separating timelines and receiving frugal titling projections. But sometimes critical moments at the rear of the stage were obscured (I had to infer the pouring away of ashes), and there was an odd total dropping of stage lights prior to the end of the performance – which brought forth loud and uncomfortable applause as the next scene was started.
But did I like it? Let’s just say I didn’t hate it; but I won’t be recommending it in any future conversations. But I’ll admit a perverse pleasure was obtained in reading the reviews for When The Rain Stops Falling that were proudly pinned up outside the theatre – because they were universally awful. Not the opinions; the actual writing. I can only assume that there’s some editors out there who are ruling with an iron fist and are above the law – but they’re making their writers look shocking.