Recipe for depression—not curing it…causing it: Australian Andrew Bovell’s oppressively ponderous When the Rain Stops Falling, a downer set partly Down Under that traffics in family dysfunction, death, child molestation and apocalyptic biblical metaphors. Over the course of an hour and forty minutes it seems as if the rain never stops falling and the pain never stops coming.
Cygnet Theatre is staging the San Diego premiere of Bovell’s 2010 play, directed in Old Town by Rob Lutfy and featuring a seven-person ensemble (all but one playing either dual roles or younger/ older versions of their characters) that has to be as wrung out as the audience is by the time the house goes dark. None of Bovell’s characters in this non-linear, time-traveling play escapes unscathed. On the surface, When the Rain Stops Falling tracks the foredoomed fates of two families, alternating not only time periods but also settings in London and Australia’s Coorang National Park. If there is an anchor among the swiftly shifting parent-child or husband-wife stories, it’s the relationship between young Gabriel Law (Josh Odsess-Rubin) and Gabrielle York (Rachael Vanwormer), who meet at an Aussie roadhouse, fall in love and soon suspect a horrifying connection between their families. Given the tenor of this play, it’s not a spoiler to say things don’t end well for Gabriel and Gabrielle.
Bovell’s grim narrative swells with recriminations, leaving its principals reaching for the faintest hopes of reconciliation. (The most tender depiction of this is one scene between Rosina Reynolds, as the older Gabrielle, and Tom Stephenson, playing her thoroughly decent spouse, Joe.) In the backdrop, throughout the movement back and forth in time, is the uneasy prospect of The World—not just the families’ but everyone’s—coming to an end. Not only Bangladesh but parts of Europe and even America are flood-ridden. The rains are unceasing. The fish are disappearing.
When the Rain Stops Falling possesses the substance and structure of a complex novel of the sort that is rarely considered in today’s beach reads era. As a play, it demands of its audience patience and intestinal fortitude.
When the Rain Stops Falling runs through Feb. 14 at Old Town Theatre. $34 and up. cygnettheatre.com
Sugar: Based on the screenplay of Some Like it Hot, this musical is about two unemployed musicians who disguise themselves as women in order to hide from the Chicago mob. Adapted by Peter Stone, it opens Jan. 28 at the Coronado Playhouse. coronadoplayhouse.com
The Metromaniacs: This new David Ives comedy centers on an 18th century Parisian poet who falls in love with a famous poetess, not realizing that she is actually a he. Naturally, hilarity ensues. Presented in association with Shakespeare Theatre Company, it opens Jan. 30 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
An Enemy of the Pueblo: In this modern retelling of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, a Mexican midwife struggles to revive a small border town known for having a healing hot springs. Presented by Amigos del Rep, it opens for one performance on Feb. 2 at the Lyceum Space in the Gaslamp. sdrep.org
Guards at the Taj: A new black comedy about two Taj Mahal guards whose faith is tested after a ghoulish encounter. Written by Rajiv Joseph, it opens Feb. 2 at the La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org
The Realish Housewives of San Diego: A parody of the self-absorbed ladies of the Bravo network series of shows, but with a local spin. Developed by a creative team out of The Second City improv troupe, it opens for eight performances Feb. 2 at the Balboa Theatre in the Gaslamp. broadwaysd.com
Coyote in a Fence : Based on a true story, Bruce Graham’s play about two very different death row inmates challenges audiences to reconsider guilt and innocence. It runs through Feb. 6 at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista. onstageplayhouse.info
Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Great Nome Gold Rush : This world premiere play sees the famous British sleuth traveling to Alaska in an attempt to prove a client’s innocence. Written by Joseph Vass, it runs through Feb. 14 at the North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. northcoastrep.org
The Nerd : Larry Shue’s comedy about a geeky architect whose life gets a little more exciting when an old comrade shows up at his door. Directed by Robert Smyth, it runs through Feb. 14 at the Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org
When the Rain Stops Falling : This multi-generational drama centers on Gabriel York, who fears that a fish falling from the sky will bring the end of the world. Presented by Cygnet Theatre Company, it runs through Feb. 14 at the Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com
Outside Mullingar : Written by award-winning playwright John Patrick Shanley, this acclaimed romcom set in rural Ireland tells the story of two 40-something neighbors falling in love despite their families feuding. Presented by San Diego Repertory Theatre, it runs through Feb. 14 at the Lyceum Space in the Gaslamp. sdrep.org
The Last Five Years : This romantic musical tells the story of a writer and an actress by working backward through their entire relationship through song. Written by Jason Robert Brown, it runs through Feb. 21 at PowPAC Community Theatre in Poway. powpac.org