Portrayal of family dynamics takes the stage at Allens Lane in “When the Rain Stops Falling”

A man standing above a group screams loudly. A fish falls from above and hits the stage at Allens Lane Art Center with a moist thud. So begins Australian writer Andrew Bovell’s, “When the Rain Stops Falling,” an ensemble drama that follows seven characters across two continents and 80 years.

Director, Robert Bauer, first saw the play at the Shaw Festival in Ontario, Canada and said that he wanted to direct the show because it was “just one of those plays” that struck him.

“I was mesmerized the whole time I was watching the play and immediately went to the bookstore and bought a copy so I could read it,” said Bauer.

Despite being involved with the Allens Lane Art Center for years as a committee member, Bauer had never directed a play at the venue. Still, he knew it was the right place for the show.

“I could visualize it on their stage in their space,” said Bauer.

For the nine cast members (two characters are portrayed by different actors in different eras), the show provided a welcome challenge.

“It’s one of the most well-written shows I’ve seen in a long time,” said Wayne Snover, an actor in the show. 

Snover said it was also the first show to feature a dialogue-free rehearsal.

“We spent a whole rehearsal just on movement,” he said. “No lines.”

For Carole Mancini, who plays the older version of a character, the show’s challenge was creating a character alongside actress Julia Wise.

“It’s a wonderful thing to work with someone very closely on being the same person,” said Mancini. She noted that Wise “tried to listen to my speech pattern and we’ve worked together on the accent.”

Mancini cited Bauer as a reason for wanting to audition.

“He’s a wonderful actor – a very serious, very fine actor – and most of us actors know that the best directors are, in fact, very fine actors,” she said.

The play follows a non-linear path, beginning in 2039 and jumping between other time periods (1959, 1988 and 2013). The production will feature a monitor indicating time and place at the beginning of each scene, as well as a family tree printed in the program, to help avoid confusion from the beginning.

“It’s going to be a real unique experience for them, [and] there’s a lot to grasp as an audience member,” said Snover. “But once they settle in I think they’re going to love it because of the way it just moves and rolls right along.”

Bauer said he thinks audiences will see a lot of themselves, and their families, in the characters on stage.

“It’s very much about families and generations,” he said. “I think people might compare their own families to the families they see and maybe see how well they are off as opposed to the people they’re seeing on stage, who have a lot of issues to deal with.”

The Allens Lane Art Center’s production of “When the Rain Stops Falling” will open on Friday, May 3, and close on Saturday, May 18. Shows on Friday and Saturday nights begin at 8 p.m. while Sunday matinees (on May 5 and May 12) will begin at 2 p.m. Tickets are $18 in advance or $20 at the door.

For more information, contact the Allens Lane Arts Center at (215) 248-4823 or visit their website.

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