Friday, 26 June 2009

When The Rain Stops Falling (#2)

Believing that it was quite likely that I would love When The Rain Stops Falling as already covered in my original review, I had already booked a second set of tickets to see it on the evening when a post-show Q&A was also scheduled. It was incredibly rewarding to be able to see this play again. Knowing the story meant that some of the emotional impact was lost, but for me this was a benefit since it had affected me so deeply last time and now I was able to focus on other aspects of the play. This knowledge also meant that one could make a much greater appreciation of the structure of the play and how intricately worked the plot is, echoing through the different locations and timezones, and recognising how some of the later events are presaged in earlier scenes.
Performance-wise, I still think that this is one of the strongest ensembles I have ever seen on a stage: there isn't a single weak link in the cast and each actor delivers performances of such intensity which is all the more admirable when one considers how relatively short most of the scenes are a we flit around the timezones. On second viewing though, I think Phoebe Nicholls and Lisa Dillon possibly edge it as the older and younger incarnations respectively of Elizabeth York. Through some subtle mannerisms and the lightest of touches, they leave the watcher with no doubt that we are watching versions of the same character, yet fully flesh out their roles so that they remain sufficiently distinct. Leah Purcell and Naomi Bentley also manage this same level of synchronicity between their incarnations of Gabrielle York without resorting to ham-fisted imitation and I look forward to the opportunity to see all of these actors again.

The Q&A session at the end of the play with most of the cast was, naturally, one of the most interesting I have attended. Obviously I had great interest in the play, but the questions asked and the answers given were really quite illuminating so I was glad to have been able to participate. I asked the first question, which was to the female actors about how they had gone about creating older/younger versions of the same character. Interestingly, they said that they had actually rehearsed mainly in isolation at first, creating their characters first and only close to the preview period did they actually meet each other and even then they still worked hard to maintain clearly defined characters, even though they were portraying the same person. There were a few questions about the genesis of the play and I was a little surprised to find out that there is a concurrent production running in Australia which has some differences, both textually and production-wise.

When The Rain Stops Falling finishes its run at the Almeida in early July which is a great shame, as I don't think nearly enough people will have had the opportunity to see this play, which even on second viewing, remains one of the best plays I have ever seen.

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