San Diego Theater Review: WHEN THE RAIN STOPS FALLING (Cygnet Theatre)

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by Milo Shapiro on January 24, 2016

in Theater-Los Angeles,Theater-Regional

WHEN IT RAINS, IT SOARS

Let’s start with the unavoidable down-side so we can end with the up-side.

While Cygnet Theatre’s When the Rain Stops Falling is spectacular, it is terribly complicated and confusing. It’s challenging enough that the 2008 play time-jumps across four generations, sometimes with different actors playing the same character, but Australian playwright Andrew Bovell purposely holds back certain information when necessary to keep us thinking. At just this, less-seasoned attendees (or those with a cocktail in them) may give up. But skip the dinner drinks and come forearmed with the inside scoop below, which would have helped this theatergoer immensely, without giving anything away:

Cristina Soria, Beth Gallagher, Josh Odsess-Rubin, Adrian Alita, Rachael VanWormer, Rosina Reynolds, Tom Stephenson in WHEN THE RAIN STOPS FALLING at Cygnet Theatre. Photo by Ken Jacques.

1)   There are three characters with the same name. Head spinning already? There’s a male/female couple named Gabriel and Gabrielle (pronounced Gabriel, though). Then their son is named Gabriel. It’s accounted for why the mother chooses that name, but it adds little to the plot and naming him anything else would have greatly aided in following this drama.

Rosina Reynolds and Tom Stephenson in WHEN THE RAIN STOPS FALLING at Cygnet Theatre. Photo by Ken Jacques.

2)   Bring this with you for reference: Henry and Elizabeth have a son named Gabriel. That Gabriel and Gabrielle have a son named Gabriel. The latter Gabriel marries a woman we never see and has a son named Andrew. If you know this before all the time jumping starts, you’ll be way ahead of most of the audience.

Rosina Reynolds, Tom Stephenson in WHEN THE RAIN STOPS FALLING at Cygnet Theatre. Photo by Ken Jacques.

3)  Gabriel the son is played by the same actor who plays Henry and he plays them both rather similarly. Here’s the key: He only plays Gabriel in the opening and closing scenes and, in both cases, he’s in his 40s − we never see a younger  version of him. At all other times, the actor is Henry.

Rosina Reynolds, Josh Odsess-Rubin, & Rachael VanWormer in WHEN THE RAIN STOPS FALLING at Cygnet Theatre. Photo by Ken Jacques.4)  At times, words display on the backdrop to help you understand who is in the scene and when. From the side seats, they are easy to miss. One audience member in house-left was overheard commenting afterward to his companion, “What words?”

That’s a lot to swallow, but worthy of the effort to chew because Cygnet has a tremendous four-course meal in store for you.

Bovell is truly a lover of words. He takes delight in crafting sentences that turn words upon themselves for poignancy. His frequent, clever reuse of identical lines later in the show by other characters with new meaning is striking and titillating. The character development of so many damaged people, fighting to find meaning and reason, holds us completely through the 105-minute one act. His delight in digging into very real pain (a couple dealing with the onset of dementia) and creating moments of total absurdity (a farcical circumstance that Gabriel 2 encounters in the opening) are both equally fascinating.

Set designer Jungah Han keeps the stage extremely simple while seizing our attention with a successfully implemented and greatly unexpected special effect. Director Rob Lutfy’s swift and exciting pacing and a credible ensemble make this a memorable, highly-recommended production.

Beth Gallagher, Adrian Alita in WHEN THE RAIN STOPS FALLING at Cygnet Theatre. Photo by Ken Jacques.photos by Ken Jacques

When the Rain Stops Falling
Cygnet Theatre Company
Old Town Theater, 4040 Twiggs St.
Wed & Thurs at 7:30; Fri at 8;
Sat at 3 & 8; Sun at 2 & 7
ends on February 14, 2016
for tickets, call 619-337-1525 or visit Cygnet

{ 2 comments }

Eve Hyder January 25, 2016 at 1:44 pm

It may have been a little confusing at the beginning of this heart-wrenching play, but getting immersed with the feelings of fear, anguish, shame, conflict, confusion – all human frailties – though also Love – take over, thanks to wonderful acting of every actress and actor involved. The ‘choreography’ and tempo of speech and movements amazed me, as well as the simple, yet most effective staging – all together made it a very intense and thought-provoking experience for me. Bravo!!

C. Soria January 26, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Thank you for your comments Mrs. Hyder – they are greatly appreciated.

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