sumner theatre melbourne theatre company southbank

Out of the three plays I’ve seen at the MTC this year,  Brink Productions and Andrew Bovell’s When the Rain Stops Falling, is an absolute standout. That really says something when you’re comparing it with Tony Award winning, Broadway and West End hits August: Osage County and God of Carnage.

When the Rain Stops Falling is intricate, clever and thought-provoking. Trying to describe it is like trying to capture  floating mist, but in a bland nutshell you could say that it’s a story about four generations of a family. Although it’s not clear until partway through that the characters are actually linked to each other, as there are numerous characters (both male and female) called Gabriel and characters from other periods silently wander in and out of the action happening at a particular point in time. But it’s not a frustrating, confusing mess – rather, the intriguing mesh of storylines and timeframes really engages your attention, and the layers that are peeled away are enlightening and sometimes shocking.

The main theme of the play is about how the past informs our present and how we must understand our past in order to move forward to the future. This is emphasised by the repetition of dialogue by all the characters as the action skips back and forth in time, from 1950s London to 2039 in Alice Springs. The theatrical staging is also repetitive as everyone drinks fish soup (the significance of fish is apparent later), gazes out the same window and uses the same furniture.

The other theme of the play is about the search for the absent. This drives the emotional impetus as we discover that the characters are missing and looking for lost fathers, husbands, sons and lovers.  The ending, which gathers together all the characters and objects from the past, is particularly beautiful and powerful.

I can’t really say much more about the play without drawing a diagram setting out every single character and every single storyline and how everything is mapped out. My advice – go and see When the Rain Stops Falling for yourself before it closes on 22 November. You’ll be pondering and teasing out the stories from your head for days afterwards.

To read other reviews from the Sydney Morning Herald click here and Australian Stage Online click here.

MTC is offering $50 tickets (that’s a saving of over $25) to the 4pm performances of When the Rain Stops Falling on Sundays 15 and 22 November. To redeem this offer simply enter the promotion code FALLING when booking online.