Last weekend I went to see When the Rain Stops Falling, a play by an Australian, Andrew Bovell. It was mounted by the U of A Studio Theatre, whose productions I have always found daring and top-notch.
One of the opening scenes sent a shiver through me. The year is 2039. It’s the middle of a storm, by the sea, and a man walks alone. A fish comes flying out of the sky. The man doesn’t know where it has come from, whether an answer to prayer or a freak of nature. He is pondering what to feed a son whom he’s never met, who is coming for lunch. Fish are nearly extinct, only the rich in the most exclusive restaurants can afford them.
This play is about our logical future: the rain that will not stop; the fish that are extinct. This is where we are heading. I know that. But has anyone said it out loud in such an intimate way to me before? The many ways our connection to living things has been lost?
Ironically, or perhaps purposefully, this play is also about our lack of intimacy with each other: how a secret can distort a family through four generations, and the shame lived in silence. They are in every family tree: the things that keep us apart, the cost of that isolation. The need to know, the search that unfolds, the questions. The memories, no matter how partial, that can guide us if we acknowledge them.
By the end, when it does stop raining, there’s only the glimmer of a lost memory, of connection, enough though to hope. And the proof, more than a week later, is that I’m still thinking about When the Rain Stops Falling.