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Last call

When the Rain Stops Falling concludes Sunday

I love it when I walk out of a theater, deeply moved, and can’t put my reaction into words. It’s a sign that the play and production were so engrossing they put the brain on hold and, as Meatloaf sang, you “let the drama tell your heart what to do.”

When the Rain Stops Falling

Andrew Bovell’s When the Rain Stops Falling has that effect. On paper, it’s a mish-mash: a non-linear jumping bean that starts in 2039 (possibly at the end of the world) and decade-hops to 1959, 1988, etc., and from London to Australia and back, and forth.

Not only that, several characters have similar names — two Gabriels and a Gabrielle, for example — and have older and younger versions of themselves. You almost wish they wore numbers on their backs to tell them apart.

You can feel Rain unfold like a piece of music.

A recipe for confusion — and it feels that way at first, when a fish falls from the sky around the time Gabriel York says he doesn’t believe in God or miracles and doesn’t know what he can possibly say to his estranged son.

“I left when he was a boy. It was cowardly of me, I know, But I was not the fathering type, and to be perfectly honest I thought the boy had a better chance without me.” And the fish that falls, in 2039, is so rare it would cost him a year’s wages.

Rain teaches you how to watch it. Or, more to the point, how to feel it unfold like a piece of music. As the play time-travels, images and expressions recur like leitmotifs: fish soup, in every other scene; the saying “on nights like this, ships are lost at sea”; a disappearing hat; and rain, either pouring down or on the way.

Cygnet’s excellent production keeps actors on stage when not in a scene. Their presence helps make necessary connections. Just as important, they keep the past in the present. As in Greek tragedy, the characters are locked in a cycle…in this case, of abandonment, repeated again and again. And finally broken?

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I love it when I walk out of a theater, deeply moved, and can’t put my reaction into words. It’s a sign that the play and production were so engrossing they put the brain on hold and, as Meatloaf sang, you “let the drama tell your heart what to do.”

When the Rain Stops Falling

Andrew Bovell’s When the Rain Stops Falling has that effect. On paper, it’s a mish-mash: a non-linear jumping bean that starts in 2039 (possibly at the end of the world) and decade-hops to 1959, 1988, etc., and from London to Australia and back, and forth.

Not only that, several characters have similar names — two Gabriels and a Gabrielle, for example — and have older and younger versions of themselves. You almost wish they wore numbers on their backs to tell them apart.

You can feel Rain unfold like a piece of music.

A recipe for confusion — and it feels that way at first, when a fish falls from the sky around the time Gabriel York says he doesn’t believe in God or miracles and doesn’t know what he can possibly say to his estranged son.

“I left when he was a boy. It was cowardly of me, I know, But I was not the fathering type, and to be perfectly honest I thought the boy had a better chance without me.” And the fish that falls, in 2039, is so rare it would cost him a year’s wages.

Rain teaches you how to watch it. Or, more to the point, how to feel it unfold like a piece of music. As the play time-travels, images and expressions recur like leitmotifs: fish soup, in every other scene; the saying “on nights like this, ships are lost at sea”; a disappearing hat; and rain, either pouring down or on the way.

Cygnet’s excellent production keeps actors on stage when not in a scene. Their presence helps make necessary connections. Just as important, they keep the past in the present. As in Greek tragedy, the characters are locked in a cycle…in this case, of abandonment, repeated again and again. And finally broken?

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