Confusion reigns at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center where “When the Rain Stops Falling” by Andrew Bovell is trying in vain to take us by storm under the direction of David Cromer who has done beautiful work with the very successful “Our Town” and the short lived “Brighton Beach Memoirs”. Not even the talented Mr. Cromer who has assembled a bevy of able actors can help sort out and clarify the four generations of English and Australian families that populate this pretentious, puzzling and fishy play.
Not even the Family Tree included in the program helps, unless you get it ahead of time and study it preparing you for the test of patience you will need to sit through this almost two hour long saga which is damp and reeking with mold.
The play moves back in forth in time between 1959 and 2039 as the revolving turntables move clock and counter clockwise attempting to keep the audience awake (my neighbor slept through most of it) with some movement to enhance the bewildering, melancholy and tragic story of two interwoven families. And herein starts the confusion.
It begins with an old man (Gabriel York – Michael Siberry) fighting the elements. Sort of like King Lear when a fish falls from the sky after a torrential storm that has characters scurrying across the stage like rodents with umbrellas. He has invited his estranged son, Andrew Price (Henry Vick) to lunch. Fish, of course.
As it turns out he is the son of Gabriel Law (Will Rogers) and Gabrielle York, the younger (Susan Pourfar) – who fell in love and married in Australia while he was trying to find out about his father who abandoned him at the age of seven. His alcoholic mother, Elizabeth Law, refuses to give him any information. She is played by Mary Beth Hurt (the older) and Kate Blumberg (the younger) who is married to Henry the pedophile (Richard Topol) who is Gabriel Law’s dad. As it turns out he also abducted the young brother of Gabrielle York who married his son. Gabrielle York the younger (Susan Pourfar) and Victoria Clark (Gabrielle York, the older) whose dementia and unhappy marriage to Joe Ryan (Rod McLachlan) is just another part of the perplexing puzzle of a play that dares you to figure out what is happening – leaving you little time to enjoy what is happening.
Enjoy? These are very disturbed and sad people. If I never meet a Gabriel or a Gabrielle again I shall be quite pleased. As it turns out those rodents with umbrellas in the opening were just that – rodents trying to escape a sinking ship called “When the Rain Stops Falling”. Performed without an intermission, it didn’t stop audience members from joining them before the plays end. www.lct.org
Overheard while leaving: Man No. 1 “It’s Greek tragedy.” Man No.2 “It’s bullsh**.”
Just to even things out here, Mr. Bovell the playwright is also responsible for the screenplay for “Strictly Ballroom” – one of my all time favorite movies.