SPECIAL ENCORE PERFORMANCE ADDED! SATURDAY, DECEMBER 13 @ 8PM
“Vivid impressions linger from Frédérique Michel’s fierce staging… admirably uniform performances…” – LA TIMES
“Compelling theatre with an engaging plot… I highly recommend “When The Rain Stops Falling…” – SANTA MONICA DAILY PRESS
“A thought-provoking meditation on coping with the tragedies of life…” – LA WEEKLY
compelling theatre with an engaging plot<>LA WEEKLY
October 10 – November 23, 2014 and December 13, 2014
Cast: David E. Frank, George Villas, Courtney Clonch, Ann Bronston, Scarlett Bermingham, Karen Kalensky, Stephen Christopher Marshall, Andrew Loviska
A fish drops from the sky and a lonely middle-aged man is launched on a magical and emotional journey across four generations of family wrestling with the awful legacy of a secret buried deep in the past.
In this award-winning drama from Australian playwright Andrew Bovell, each of the characters is trapped in a longing they cannot bear. They reach toward each other, tentatively, uncertainly, but time after time fail to connect.
The tragic love story of a young Englishman, Gabriel, whose father has disappeared, and a young Australian girl from the Coorong, Gabrielle, is at the center of this haunting drama that reaches back to London in 1960 and reaches forward to Alice Springs in 2039—from a time when the world began to change, to a future in which environmental catastrophe is the harvest of that change.
Fourth Sunday Q&AAfter the Sunday, November 2 matinee, please join us for an informal discussion with the cast and creative staff of When the Rain Stops Falling.
This project is supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and the Wells Fargo Foundation.
By Philip Brandes
When it comes to the heartbreaking silences between parents and children, Australian playwright Andrew Bovell observes that “having nothing to say is just another way of having so much to say that you dare not begin.”
In its handsomely staged L.A. premier at Santa Monica’s City Garage, Bovell’s “When the Rain Stops Falling” traces this legacy of estrangement through four generations, linking the recent past to a near-future environmental apocalypse.
The cycle begins in 1960s London, where the marital tensions of a seemingly ordinary couple (George Villas, Courtney Clonch) only hint at fissures that, 20 years later, will cause their son (Andrew Loviska) to seek a new life in Australia with an equally troubled local (Scarlett Bermingham).
In 2013, the fallout from their ill-fated marriage drives away their own son (David E. Frank), despite his affection for a well-meaning stepfather (Stephen Christopher Marshall). Only in 2039, under the shadow of global extinction, does the playwright allow a chance to break the cycle.
Keeping the timelines straight is particularly challenging due to the overlapping presence of characters from the differing timelines, with older versions of the women played by Ann Bronston and Karen Kalensky sharing the stage with their younger selves.
There’s no sugarcoating the relentlessly downbeat mood here. Vivid impressions linger from Frédérique Michel’s fierce staging, which underscores the play’s austere geometric narrative structure with underplayed, admirably uniform performances and abstract choreography; the pent-up emotional floodgates open only in carefully controlled doses.
Charles A. Duncombe’s black and red production design and Anthony Sanazzaro’s rain-swept video projections create a stunning visual tableau that takes some of the sting out of the end of the world.
By Mayank Keshaviah
Known for its avant-garde and absurdist fare, City Garage takes a turn for the slightly more naturalistic with its current offering, When the Rain Stops Falling, from Australian playwright and screenwriter Andrew Bovell. But only slightly. Bovell’s widely produced award-winning play skips back and forth in time, providing familial filaments in two-character scenes that are eventually woven into a multi-generational saga of fathers and sons, loss and longing, secrets and regrets.
Gabriel Law (Andrew Loviska), who is tired of his mum Elizabeth’s (Ann Bronston) fish soup and the off-white walls of her small London flat in 1988, sets out for Australia to trace the steps of his long-missing father Henry (George Villas). There, on the Coorong, he becomes involved with local girl Gabrielle York (Scarlett Bermingham). Though their affair remains brief, the ripples of it travel backward and forward through scenes involving Henry and younger Elizabeth (Courtney Clonch) in 1960s London, older Gabrielle (Karen Kalensky) and her husband Joe (Stephen Christopher Marshall) in Adelaide in 2013, and Gabriel York (son of Gabriel Law and Gabrielle York, played by David E. Frank) and his own estranged son Andrew (Loviska) in Alice Springs in 2039. Present throughout these interactions are the nonstop rain and fish soup, as well as echoed lines and metaphors.
Director Frédérique Michel’s placement of non-speaking characters silently observing or otherwise paralleling younger or older versions of themselves is evocative. Equally appealing is her employ of colorful props and a score consisting of aboriginal chant in the balletic interstitials. Sound designer Paul Rubenstein’s steady downpour and Anthony Sanarazzo’s video design provide the perpetually drizzly ambience of the scenes, offsetting the relatively sparse set.
Among the capable cast, Villas showcases range (especially when compared to his character in this summer’s The Conduct of Life), Bermingham has a feistiness that is mirrored by Kalensky’s vivacity and ferocity (as the older version of the same character), and Frank exudes a melancholy, quiet, self-awareness that carries the weight of the family’s dark deeds across the years.
From a fish magically dropping from the sky at the outset to the literal unpacking of family history at an intergenerational “last supper” of sorts, the play rewards those with a temperament for non-linear storytelling (and the stamina for two hours sans intermission) with a thought-provoking meditation on coping with the tragedies of life.
Fish from the sky
By Sarah Spitz
CULTURE WATCH — A fish falls from the sky and a story told across multiple generations begins. “When The Rain Stops Falling” is the latest offering by City Garage, written by award-winning Australian playwright Andrew Bovell. It’s compelling theatre with an engaging plot and not a typical City Garage production.
City Garage often features experimental, non-linear, stylized stage productions frequently including nudity (though not gratuitously).
Not so this time. Relatively speaking this is a more conventional drama, albeit punctuated with the trademark artistic, choreographic and theatrical design elements that City Garage is renowned for, especially under the direction of Frédérique Michel. Stark contrasting colors, multi-level platforms and synchronized movements mark this work.
Be prepared: the play runs just under two hours and there’s no intermission. Plus there’s the constant sound of rain and water. But I can’t think of a single place in the play that would lend itself to a break. So just sit back and let it wash over you.
We meet 50-year-old Gabriel in Alice Springs, Australia in 2039, where he has just caught a fish that dropped out of the sky. An environmental disaster is unfolding globally and it has been raining relentlessly for years in the driest heart of this remote continent.
Gabriel has received word that his son, Andrew, wants to visit; they have not had contact for years and he has nothing to make for lunch … until the fish arrives. He knows instinctively that Andrew is seeking to find himself and understand where he came from. The visit will send Gabriel into nervous action trying to make a good impression, cleaning up his tiny flat, painting it, and fussing in a way that will have very little impact on its appearance.
This theme is repeated in other settings and times. Rain, soup and fish are some of the other constants throughout this time-tripping plot, in which we follow past, present and future iterations of Gabriel and his family. Hidden emotions, silent bitterness, fear and distrust, deep love, deep hurt and dark secrets mark this emotional journey, told in language that is often poetic and a bit incantatory, repeated verbatim from scene to scene.
Scenes unfold in 1960s and 1980s London, 2013 Adelaide, Australia and 2039 Alice Springs, near legendary Ayers Rock. Projected on a screen behind the actors are changing images of rain against a window, lapping tidal waves, a lightning-streaked starry sky that time-lapses across the night, and other scenes that establish geographical locations.
We meet Henry Law and his wife Elizabeth in 1960s London, where Elizabeth is feeling emotionally and sexually frustrated. The play’s great secret lies in Henry’s other longings.
When we next meet Elizabeth, it’s 28 years later and her son Gabriel is visiting, still trying to find out why she drinks to get through her life. Gabriel tells her he is leaving to go to Australia, where his father disappeared mysteriously after his secret was revealed. Gabriel wants to know what happened to him.
Along the southern shore of Australia, Gabriel, now 28, meets Gabrielle, aged 24, at a roadside diner and is smitten. She’s taken with him, too, but is far more cynical about the way things turn out in real life. She lost her parents early; and when they were children, her brother was kidnapped and never seen again.
Gabriel insists on journeying to Ayers Rock where his father disappeared, and while driving there with Gabrielle another dark secret is revealed.
Next in 2013, we meet Gabrielle at 50 with Joe Ryan, her husband and stepfather to her son, Gabriel, the result of her encounter with the other Gabriel.
The thread of the plot weaves in and out of these scenes and others, building to a surprising twist which I won’t reveal, but it’s not saying too much to tell you that Gabriel dies in an accident with Gabrielle carrying his child.
That child is 50-year-old Gabriel, and we will return to his flat in Alice Springs, and the anxiously anticipated visit from his estranged son, Andrew. As familial patterns repeat through time, we are finally brought full circle and left vaguely hopeful, as the rain does stop at the end, perhaps bringing these disruptive cycles to a close.
I highly recommend “When The Rain Stops Falling” at City Garage, located at the westernmost end of Bergamot Station, onstage Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. through Nov. 23. Call (310) 453-9939 or visit www.citygarage.org.