When the Rain Stops Falling
Eighty years of stormy weather.
Mon Mar 8 2010
FACE HOLDER Clark and McLachlan play a troubled pair.
Time Out Ratings<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
Talk about the weather is anything but small in the transgenerational family saga When the Rain Stops Falling—“All our magnificent endeavor amounts to very little in the face of bad weather,” says a character early on—and its staging is huge as well. David Cromer’s sorcerous direction of the play begins with a howling rainstorm that makes the most of the production’s extraordinary design team: David Korins on sets, Clint Ramos on costumes, Tyler Micoleau on lights, Fitz Patton on sound. The ceiling seems to droop with rain; a man screams; a woman falls to the ground, and a fish falls from the sky. It’s the perfect introduction to Andrew Bovell’s world of frailty, confusion and accident.
After this ravishing cloudburst of promise, however, the play has dry spells. Cromer is one of the most gifted directors of our time, and all of his skills are put to the test in the weaving of Bovell’s wide-ranging, complex family tapestry, which follows 80 years of history (from London in 1959 to Australia in 2039). The cast is superb: Mary Beth Hurt and Kate Blumberg portray a brilliant, emotionally distant Englishwoman at different ages; Richard Topol is her mysterious husband, and Will Rogers her baffled son; Victoria Clark and Susan Pourfar incarnate disparate versions of a mentally dodgy Australian woman, and Rod McLachlan is her loyal mate; Michael Siberry is their ruin of a child. All of them have powerful moments. But while Bovell’s writing has the reach of Tony Kushner’s, it doesn’t quite have the grasp. Emotionally moving scenes and visionary aspirations are weighed down by wearisomely deliberate repetitions of text and imagery. At its finest, the play evokes the weather’s improbable, contingent but undeniable reality, and not just its patterns.
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