Pouring Despair and Torrential Hope: Andrew Bovell’s Quand la pluie s’arrêtera and the Intricacy of Family Ties

Pouring Despair and Torrential Hope: Andrew Bovell’s Quand la pluie s’arrêtera and the Intricacy of Family Ties

Aurélie Roy for Life in Québec.

Written by Australian playwright Andrew Bovell in 2009, Quand la pluis s’arrêtera (original title When the Rain Stops Falling) is presented for the first time in French at Théâtre Le Trident from January 16th to February 10th.

Frédéric Blanchette, translator and director of the play, offers a stunning account of the four generations of a family waiting for the rain and the pain to stop pouring.

The play opens with a bang: it is 2039 in Alice Springs and an enormous fish falls from the sky at the feet of a man for whom fish are a myth from the past.

Surprised and baffled, the man, Gabriel York (Norman D’amour) engages in a long and emotional soliloquy in which he relates his past failures, the incessant rain which is thought to be an omen of the apocalypse, and his son Andrew’s (Maxime Robin) recent attempts at reaching out to him after years of silence.

Silence in Quand la pluie s’arrêtera is not literal: when they are together, the members of the four generations of this family are hardly ever silent, as they are always discussing topics of a triviality that serves to cover up their inability to communicate.

In fact, the most recurrent conversation they have revolves around the weather and the rain which never, ever stops falling.

Bovell’s play presents vignettes of these four generations, from 1959 to 2039, who slowly drown in their own misgivings and solitude. Henry Law (Christian Michaud), in 1959, must leave his son due to a horrifying and devastating secret he has been keeping.

Years later, his son Gabriel Law (David Laurin) leaves his London home in search of his father in the Australian wilderness. There, he meets Gabrielle (Alice Pascual) and their passion and bond are instant, powerful, and heavy with the weight of meaning and consequences.

Years later, their son, Gabriel, stands in the middle of the stage when a fish unexpectedly falls at his feet…

Throughout the play, which keeps jumping from one generation to the next, the characters navigate the difficulty and impossibility of parent-child relationships.

With a bittersweet recognition of how authentic and realistic the on-stage events are, the audience gets to witness parents who incessantly abandon their children, and children who brutally leave their parents. Parents who weep because of their children’s cruelty, and children who denounce their parents’ cruel love, absence, and inability to understand.

The stage is set up in a remarkable and delightful way: several long pieces of rope hang from the ceiling, exquisitely imitating the omnipresence of the rain. The large mirror-finish floor tiles produce a nice and mesmerising effect, as they add, through reflection, to the endlessness of the torrential rain. They also recall the puddles which, much like the characters’ anguish and loneliness, are sure to accumulate with the incessant rain. Furthermore, the importance of the weather and its consequences is emphasized by the fact that a large amount of water is dropped on the head of a character whenever he or she enters the stage.

By the end of the play and as the title suggests, the ropes that serve as rain drop to the floor in a hopeful moment when we realize that the rain finally, thankfully, miraculously does stop falling. And the implications of the end of the deluge are significant, breathtaking, and filled with hope and the promise of a better tomorrow.

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Categories: Arts & Culture, Reviews

About Author

Aurélie Roy

Aurélie Roy moved to Quebec City in 2010. She is a PhD student in English Literature and a Technical Writer. She enjoys reading literature in any shape or form, and also likes to write fiction in the little free time she has. She is always moving and determined to accomplish the several projects that she has, but still often finds pleasure in simply sitting around all day, curled up under a blanket with a good book and her dog.

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