Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Las Vegas

When the Rain Stops Falling
A Public Fit Theatre Company
Review by Mary LaFrance

Also see Mary's review of The Nance

Valerie Carpenter Bernstein, Timothy Cummings,
Jane C. Walsh, Mike Rasmussen, Jamie Carvelli-Pikrone,
Christopher Brown, and Tina Rice

Photo by Josh Wroblewski
To outsiders, Las Vegas often seems a land of style without substance—hardly a place where serious theatre can thrive. The best proof of the error of this perception lurks in a dark, cavernous industrial space at the corner of Maryland and Fremont, known to the arts community as The Usual Place. Here the innovative professional company A Public Fit has staged its haunting production of Andrew Bovell's When the Rain Stops Falling. To see what exquisite acting and directing are all about, buy your ticket now before they're gone.

This is theatre at its best. The direction—by Ann-Marie Pereth and Joseph D. Kucan—is meticulous. The talented cast includes some of the best actors in southern Nevada. Even on opening night, there was not a single stumble or awkward pause. The finely tuned ensemble keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, which is quite an accomplishment for a play that turns not on elaborate plot devices, but on human frailty, painful secrets, and disquieting revelations.

"For the rain it raineth every day." So wrote Shakespeare in a light-hearted verse that celebrates a turbulent life. The same metaphor takes on a darker tone in Bovell's play, which is part mystery, part epic. Spanning the years 1959-2039, it traces the impact of a terrible event on two families and multiple generations across two continents. The storytelling is not chronological, but cuts back and forth across time as bits of the mystery fall into place. Characters from different places and times often occupy the stage together. Two characters appear as both their younger and older selves, portrayed by different actresses; at times, they even share a scene. The overall effect—suggesting ghosts from both the past and the future—is both poetic and gripping.

Eric A. Koger's set design takes full advantage of the depth of the playing space. Actors make their entrances from deep upstage, suggesting distance both geographic and temporal. As they traverse the central runway to enter the playing area, they are surrounded by string-like webbing, suggestive not only of the relentless rain but also of the characters' inability to escape their ancestor's misdeed. Directors Pereth and Kucan have timed these entrances impeccably; they never distract and never delay the action.

If the English and Australian accents wander from time to time, it's a minor flaw in an otherwise pitch-perfect production. The mood is at times pensive, at times tumultuous, and the only sounds we hear are the actors' voices and the occasional click of soupspoons. In between, the silence is profound.

When the Rain Stops Falling continues through November 13, 2016 (Thursday-Saturday at 8 pm, Saturday-Sunday at 2pm) at The Usual Place, 100 S. Maryland Pkwy., Las Vegas, NV 89101. (Enter through the alley from the parking lot behind PublicUs.) For tickets ($25 general admission, $20 seniors and students) or further information, go to Stay after the show for The Buzzz!, a chat with the cast and creative team.

Gabriel York and Henry Law: Christopher Brown
Elizabeth Law, older: Valerie Carpenter Bernstein
Gabrielle York, younger: Jamie Carvelli-Pikrone
Joe Ryan: Timothy Cummings
Gabriel Law and Andrew Price: Mike Rasmussen
Elizabeth Law, younger: Tina Rice
Gabrielle York, older: Jane C. Walsh

Additional Creative
Costume design by Mariya Radeva-Nedyalkova; Lighting design by Joshua Wroblewski; Sound design by Tim Sage; Music composed & performed by Mike Rasmussen.

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