What an amazing play. My emotions felt they were on a roller coaster as this poignant story of four generations of a family played out in front of me.
After watching the When the Rain Stops Falling at Circa on Saturday night, I searched for more info on it, and was not at all surprised to find that Time Magazine declared it the best new play of the year in 2010.
The playwright, Australian Andrew Bovell, produced a first class award winning script. The director and cast matched the script with a superb performance. The play is like a jigsaw as seemingly disconnected aspects suddenly connect up together. The most shocking connection hits you like a bolt of thunder – I only worked it out a few minutes before it was made explicit.
The programme on your seat helpfully includes a family tree, and a list of the five settings of the play. I recommend you get there a bit early so you have time to read and re-read these. It really helps you follow the play.
The four time settings of the play are 1960s, 1988, 2013 and 2039. It jumps from one period to another in a way which is puzzling at first, but dramatically works wonderfully well, as pieces of the jigsaw start to fall into place.
Another feature of the play, is that two of the characters have a younger and older version. You wonder at first what turned such a happy young woman into a sad despairing alcoholic, but again over time, the answer is revealed. And you get some especially poignant scenes as the older version of the character silently observes the younger version receiving some bad news.
(photo by Stephen A’Court)
Sophie Hambleton played a young Australian girl, Gabrielle York, perfectly. The accent, the attitude were all there, and especially the stoic reserve as she copes with tragedy after tragedy.
Jason Whyte was also superb in his dual roles as Henry Law and Henry’s grandson Gabriel York. Whyte managed to make Henry Law a somewhat compassionate character, whom you feel sorry for – and that is no mean feat when the story fully unfolds.
While the play does have a lot of sadness, and some shocking events, there is an ending which puts aside all the sadness, and reminds us of the importance of family – no matter how flawed they may be
This play was one of the most compelling, memorable and moving plays I have seen. It was simply exceptional.