Friday, April 9, 2010

Review: When the Rain Stops Falling

The Rain and the Confusion Never Cease
By Lauren Yarger
When viewing Andrew Bovell’s When the Rain Stop Falling Off-Broadway at Lincoln Center, be sure to open the Playbill to the cast and family-tree pages, study them and keep them open for the duration. You’re going to need them if you want to understand what’s happening on stage.

I did not have the benefit of that friendly advice when I saw the show and as a result spent the entire 90 minutes trying to figure out who was who and mistakenly thinking people were who they were not, only to realize through some dialogue that they couldn’t be who I thought they were. And since there is no intermission, there wasn’t the option of trying to make a quick study before the second act.

In fact, my companion and I discussed who was who at length following the show, and we weren’t alone, as other theater goers lunching at our restaurant also were trying to make some sense out of the all the characters. Even after we thought we had it figured out, I realized when I sat down to write this review that we still hadn’t gotten it right.

So dear readers, I will not attempt to tell you who was who and who did what since I’m not exactly sure. I can tell you that a number of characters (nine, I think) many of whom are named Gabriel or Gabrielle, played by various actors at different ages, are portrayed at various times from 1959 to 2039 and that the play is set in London and in Adelaide, Alice Springs, Ayres Rock and the Coorong, Australia (and most of that I got from the program, not from Bovell’s script).

At one point a fish drops out of the sky and indeed, fish figure prominently in the various vignettes we share with the characters. The folks repeat a lot of the same conversations and are particularly interested in discussing how the incessant rain isn’t so bad when you consider how much it rains in Bangladesh.

What it all means, I honestly am not sure, but there are some highlights (and my companion absolutely loved the play, though I’m not sure he could tell you for sure why). There are some really nifty rain and lighting effects (David Korns, Tyler Micoleau, design). The always excellent Victoria Clark who plays Gabrielle York, older and Mary Beth Hurt (Elizabeth Law, older) are ably directed by David Cromer of Our Town fame and give moving performances as women trapped in lives they didn’t expect trying to do what they think is best.

Cromer’s outstanding moment comes right at the beginning of the play when all of the various characters walk past each other in the rain on a revolving stage that symbolizes the vicious cycle of these people’s lives. It’s terrific theater. Then I got lost in the deluge of characters and time tripping and never got my head above water again.

After the characters share their moments, there is reconciliation between a father and son and the rain finally stops. I’m just not sure which father and son, because even now when I look at the family tree and remember the play, I think it’s one particular father reuniting with his son. The show’s publicity information, however, tells me it’s actually two different characters.

So, instead, I’ll just list the rest of the actors and their characters as listed in the Playbill and say that they all give very good performances: Kate Blumberg (Elizabeth Law, younger), Richard Topol (Henry Law), Will Rogers (Gabriel Law), Susan Pourfar (Gabrielle York, younger), Rod McLachlan (Joe Ryan), Michael Siberry (Gabriel York), Henry Vick (Andrew Price).

When the Rain Stops Falling plays through April 18 at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, 150 West 65th St., NYC. For tickets call 212-239-6200; outside NY: 800- 432-7250.

Christians might also like to know:
• Language
• Lord’s name taken in vain

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play concept, "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York in February 2018.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Intensive and other training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com. She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women. She is a former vice preseint and voting member of The Drama Desk.

She is a freelance writer and playwright (member Dramatists Guild of America). She is a member if the The Outer Critics Circle (event manager for the annual awards ceremony), The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and the Drama League. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She also is a member of the Episcopal Actors' Guild, the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts and The O'Neill Theatre Center..

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2018 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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