Like anything Australian, When the Rain Stops Falling calls for a massive scale. But Andrew Bovell's multi-generational 2008 story also requires intimacy as it seamlessly moves to various locales in time as well as geography, exploring the future as well as the past. It's the sort of challenge that Quantum Theatre handles perfectly.
Performed without a break, Rain encompasses 80 years (1959-2039) and four generations of family tragedy: fractured fathers and sons, and two of the wives/mothers who ingloriously coped with the breaks. And as the private world of these interconnected families falls apart, the rest of the planet doesn't seem to do so well, either.
Director Martin Giles captures the Dream Time spirit of Bovell's vision, yet stirs up the tension to the boiling point. Characters from different timeframes appear together without overtly interacting, yet there is still a sense of communion. Lines of dialogue -- even whole soliloquies and scenes -- are picked up later by different characters in circumstances that reflect, rather than merely repeat, the original.
The most effective way that past, present and future intermingle involves the two pairs of actors portraying the female characters as older and younger women. Robin Abramson and Bridget Connors even look uncannily believable as two versions of the same person: respectively, the hopeful young Aussie taking a chance on love, and her embittered older self losing her mind. Doing just as well by the previous generation, as the whip-smart Englishwoman dealing out serious tongue-lashings, are Daina Michelle Griffith and Mary Rawson.
The men too hold their own. Daniel Krell in the first generation, obsesses with weather calamities and the end of the world; Nick Lehane is the son who finds the beauty his father described, but also glimpses the horror behind it. John Shepard represents the next generation of fatherless sons who leave their families, facing the uncertainty of the future and the perplexities of his past; and Philip Winters is the good Joe, who sticks by his wife despite her vagaries and raises his stepson. A hand, too, for Zachary Nading in the small but not insignificant role as the fourth (and final?) generation.
The grandeur of Australia's iconic Ayers Rock and the surrounding desert -- and its opposite, rainy London -- come courtesy of Tony Ferrieri's scenic design. Kudos go to the entire creative/tech team, including: David Huber, sound; Deborra Bergmark-Peelor, lighting; Jen Sturm, costumes; Scott Frederick, production; and stage manager Michelle K. Engleman.
When the Rain Stops Falling continues through Nov. 21. Former Iron City Brewery building on Sassafras Street, Lawrenceville. 888-718-4253 or www.quantumtheatre.com