The Court Theatre, Bernard Street, Addington, Christchurch

08/03/2014 - 29/03/2014

Production Details

Renowned New Zealand actor Mark Hadlow (Dori from The Hobbit) returns home to The Court in a tightly wrought drama of interwoven connections, understandings and mysteries.

When the Rain Stops Falling is a compelling family saga that reverberates through four generations of one family moving from the claustrophobia of a 1950s London flat to the heart of the Australian desert in 2039. The stand out international play is epic in its scope, yet at the same time exceptionally intimate.

At The Court Theatre
8 – 29 March 2014
Show Times: 6:30pm Mon & Thu, 7:30pm Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat, 2:00pm
Matinée Saturday 15 March.
Tickets from $31 at www.courttheatre.org.nz or 963 0870.

Gabriel York / Henry Law – Mark Hadlow,
Elizabeth Law (older) – Yvonne Martin,
Elizabeth Law (younger) – Lara Macgregor,
Gabrielle York (older) – Jude Gibson,
Gabrielle York (younger) – Lauren Gibson,
Joe Ryan – Bruce Phillips,
Gabriel Law – Cameron Douglas,
Andrew Price – Guy Langford.

Director – Ross Gumbley,
Assistant Director – Melanie Camp,
Set Design – Mark McEntyre,
Costume Design – Tina Hutchison-Thomas,
Lighting Design – Giles Tanner,
Sound Design – Sean Hawkins,
Properties – Anneke Bester,
Stage Manager – Cally Castell,
Lighting and Sound Operator – Sean Hawkins,
Production Manager – Mandy Perry

Theatre ,

An intensely absorbing experience

Review by Lindsay Clark 13th Mar 2014

From an initial hit season at the 2008 Adelaide Festival of the Arts in 2008, this extraordinary play has impressed all comers, partly because of its startling insights into the undercurrents of human relationships, partly for what the revered Michael Billington (writing for The Guardian) called its “fiendishly ingenious cats cradle structure”, and partly because the stories it tells are in themselves both moving and engaging. Ross Gumbley’s sensitive direction ensures that the impact of Bovell’s fine writing is felt as powerfully here and now. 

Men and women from four generations and two families, English and Australian, people the play. Its non-linear development has our experience of them overlapping, with ever-changing perspectives, weaving a complex whole, in which patterns of existence itself can be understood. The way the past almost always shapes everyone’s future is perhaps most clearly stated, but there is the suggestion too that we are ourselves part of a wider pattern of natural events, beyond our understanding or apparent control. 

A play of ideas then, moving about in space and time, as what seems to the perpetrator to be a half understood lapse of judgement spreads its roots outwards and onwards, through successive generations of fathers and sons. Wives deal with the fallout. For the audience, subtle links across time and place are marked by recurring phrases, actions and objects in a sequence which is as intriguing as the action itself.

Our concentration and focus is greatly supported by the whole creative team. Mark McEntyre’s set eschews realism and provides “a bleak, washed out landscape despoiled by the effects of over consumption”. It is also a space where interwoven and blended time can explore ideas effortlessly .Gauzes provide past, present and future acting areas without definitive separation and muted costume (Tina Hutchison-Thomas) lighting design from Giles Tanner with sound design from Sean Hawkins, all extend and support this effect. The result is deeply satisfying. 

Gabriel York, born in 1989, frames the action of the play and it is his response to an almost forgotten son which seems likely to make the future brighter than it was set to be. At the end of the play, as the rain stops falling, this wistful depiction of modern life offers at least some salve for the pain of betrayal and loneliness which seem to attend human affairs. 

Carrying this pivotal role as well as that of his grandfather Henry Law, whose actions have set the repercussive cycles in motion, Mark Hadlow is unforgettable and a reminder that this fine actor has the presence and technique to take us into any world. 

Henry’s wife Elizabeth has an older self (Yvonne Martin) and a younger (Lara MacGregor). Both roles are strongly presented. Their son Gabriel Law (versatile Cameron Douglas) seeks answers about his father in Australia, thus meeting a love match, Gabrielle York (again seen in two time frames, Jude Gibson the older, Lauren Gibson the younger), with intelligent and unsentimental performances from both.

Bruce Phillips steps forcefully in as Joe Ryan, stepfather to Gabrielle’s child, who is the same Gabriel York we met at the beginning, whose crisis sparks the play and whose resolve breaks the mould when opportunity arrives in the form of his own estranged son, Andrew Price played sensitively by Guy Langford. 

The explanation above is clumsy but gently revealed links in the live performance make for an intensely absorbing experience. Ultimately the play provides us with a highly perceptive comment on our own humanity. 

[See also reviews from the Silo and Circa productions.]


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Beautiful, sophisticated and devastating

Review by Erin Harrington 09th Mar 2014

The family saga When The Rain Stops Falling has a wide and ambitious scope. It starts in 2039 in Alice Springs with a fish falling from the sky during a torrential storm, straight into the hands of Gabriel York, a fraught and anxious man. He is about to meet the son, Andrew, he abandoned twenty years earlier. Gabriel knows that Andrew will no doubt want to know who he is, where he comes from, and how he fits in, but Gabriel doesn’t know what he is going to tell him as his own knowledge is vague and fragmented.

From there, the map that traces the troubled intersecting lives of Gabriel’s predecessors unfolds. The action darts back and forth across 80-odd years, covering four generations over five eras in both London and Australia.

A cast of eight – Mark Hadlow, Cameron Douglas, Jude Gibson, Lauren Gibson, Guy Langford, Yvonne Martin, Bruce Phillips and Lara Macgregor – play the various members of York and Law families. Timelines overlap: sometimes characters will look back upon younger versions of themselves; at other times they move past one another, ghost-like, speaking to each another from the past and the future.

There is no weak link in this ensemble, and their performances are intense, focused and very affecting. Often the action is centred on a long table at which every member of the family has a place. The scenes in which they sit together, eating bowls of fish soup, feel like an act of communion. 

Andrew Bovell’s multi-layered, witty and poignant script is a marvel. The language is lush and richly metaphorical. It is clearly a gift to the cast, and no word feels wasted. Gabriel York’s remarkable opening monologue alone draws applause from the audience. It’s a complex script, and while it demands a lot from the audience it is enormously rewarding. 

There are lots of big ideas at play. One character discusses the French philosopher Denis Diderot at length, most notably his thoughts on the nature of poverty and unnecessary acquisition of goods. The issues of free will and determinism, too, are ever present; characters across generations repeat one another’s thoughts, words and movements, and in doing so they spin a verbal and emotional web that seems to gently but resolutely snare them all. Meanwhile, there is a sense that we are in the midst of an ecological cataclysm that is both of our own making and some form of divine punishment.  

At its heart, though, it offers us a simple choice: are we to be incapacitated by the burdens and sins of the past, by things that we cannot change and lives that can’t be re-lived, or are we to learn from those challenges and mistakes and do things better? 

The sparse technical elements of the production work with a singular focus to bring about the physical and emotional world of the play. The small collection of highly significant props, the blues, greys and browns of the costumes, and the pale walls and screens of the domestic set all work towards creating a sense of entrapment and melancholy, which is augmented by the evocative lighting and the nearly interminable sound of rain. Everything feels like it has been bleached with time, and manages to be by turns both spacious and claustrophobic.

For all the valiant efforts of the various characters this is not a happy story, but despite the pain, anger, humiliation, loss and intense need that drives the action, When The Rain Stops Falling nonetheless ends with a glimmer of hope – and a glimmer is all that’s needed. 

I love this production, and for me it’s one of the best things that the Court Theatre has done in recent memory. It’s beautiful, sophisticated and devastating and I leave pleased that I’ve worn waterproof mascara.


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