Cover – Francis Greenslade and Esther Van Doornum. Above – Alex Pinder. Photos – Lachlan Woods.

Iron Lung Theatre brings Melbourne audiences a nuanced rendition of Andrew Bovell’s “When The Rain Stops Falling”. There is pathos and rewarding revelations at the final station. Just be prepared to stay onboard this multi generational journey running approximately 135 minutes no interval.

Alice Springs over several generations leading up to 2039 the story is unveiled. Always seemingly in the wet season. It starts with figures running across the stage in a downpour and a single fish plummets to the floor. Potentially the only good news this town has seen in many a lifetime. The set design by Greg Clarke is complementary to the action and has rewarding moments towards the end of production as does the play. The floor itself is a stickly vinyl like material that reflects the essence of water and makes all the characters leave sticky sounding footprints throughout their Jjourneys. The footprints of the past will be acknowledged one way or another. The opening monologue is delivered well and a reunion between the absent father delivering it and the abandoned son is put on the table for later consumption, along with the fish.

Darrin Verhagen gives us a continual rainy soundscape that complements Clare Springett’s lighting design and Clarke’s minimal but effective set. Dripping along in the background with a misty fog heavy in the air, the audience is always being affected by the weather. Whilst the characters of the story are forced to weather the trauma passed on to them from their parents and grandparents.

With posied sparse staging, director Briony Dunn brings tension to every scene setting an overall tone for the production. This works well for the majority of the scenes but sets a heaviness to the work and when the pace drops even a little you really feel the two hours plus running time with no interval.

The only criticism of this work is the dead middle section where the pace is not quite there with unearned pauses anchoring the pace further. It is a slow burn piece of writing but if it gets drawn out too much you lose the audience before the climax comes round.

What a climax though! Bovell weaves an intricate story that comes full circle in the final quarter. Flashing back and forth in time the audience is suddenly thrown into the present where generations of trauma finally come to the boil and erupt over the grand children of broken families. Strong performances all round from the cast really bring this work home. Some of the final scenes leave an impact on the viewer that hangs in the air like the mist long after the actors have left the stage. Special mention to Heather Bolton and Margaret Mills who brought a very believable weight and gravitas to their characters. Plus great casting of Alex Pinder as the loveable Joe, who brought great physicality to the role.

The ending is fantastic and deserved more space that the rest of the play took up. The eruption of unsaid things finally surfacing was poignant, well directed and cleverly staged by Dunn.

Event details

Iron Lung Theatre presents
When The Rain Stops Falling
by Andrew Bovell

Director Briony Dunn

Venue: Theatre Works | 14 Acland Street, St Kilda VIC
Dates: 10 – 31 July, 2021
Tickets: $45 – $35


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