The Family Tree of 'When the Rain Stops Falling'
Andrew Bovell’s When the Rain Stops Falling examines vivid moments from the lives of the Law/York family. This family evolves from English couple Henry and Elizabeth Law in 1959 to father and son Gabriel York and Andrew Price in 2039. Explore all the characters in between the four generations in the When the Rain Stops Falling Family Tree and from the ensemble who portray them.
“All our science. All our knowledge. All our magnificent endeavor amounts to very little in the face of bad weather.” - Henry, Law 1959
Keith Conallen (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq) takes on the challenging role of patriarch Henry Law. “Henry is completely oblivious,” Conallen explains. “He really takes advantage of his family. It’s a normalcy that he can hide behind.” By using his family to hide his inner demons, Henry begins to lose those he cares about and himself: “There are so many things being thrust on Henry, that by the end he has lost his core identity, which has been completely taken over by these thoughts that are popping up in his mind.”
“I’ve painted the walls. As the tanks were rolling into Prague. Apparently.” - Elizabeth Law, 1968
“Of course having nothing to say is just another way of having so much to say that you dare not begin.” - Elizabeth Law, 1988
Played by both Sarah Gliko and Nancy Boykin, When the Rain Stops Falling tracks Elizabeth’s complicated relationship with motherhood. “She doesn’t fit under the expectations of what a woman was in the late 50s and early 60s,” says Gliko, who plays the younger Elizabeth. “She’s okay with saying to the world, ‘I don’t want or need to be a mother. Yet, she does find that motherly instinct to protect Gabriel. It’s something she cannot share with her son though. So there is a buildup of miscommunication that comes from the best of intentions but is harmful.”
As the years go on this miscommunication becomes a Elizabeth’s defining characteristic as explained by Nancy Boykin you plays the older Elizabeth: “She has a secret. It’s a dark secret. She sort of sets the play in motion because her secret has such ramifications. It’s one of the fun things about the scenes with her son [Gabriel], there’s that longing to tell him the truth and the role she has in protecting him from it."
“I have such a yearning to stand under a different sky to the one I was born under.” - Gabriel Law, 1988
“I think temperamentally we share a kind of thoughtful melancholy, but circumstantially his life is very different from mine,” says Brian Ratcliffe as he describes his character Gabriel Law. “In the play he is seeking answers that he has had questions about all his life. He has no memories of his father, which is a huge hole in his heart and his mother is strangely silent on some of the most important issues to him and their relationship.”
Gabriel goes in search of answers in the Coorong in Australia where he meets a young woman in a road house named Gabrielle: “They both have parental figures that are just gone under circumstances that are either mysterious or tragic. They recognize themselves in the other and I think their names are an excellent symbol of that. There is an unlikely unity between these two characters even though superficially they are very different.”
“It has to mean something. For you and me of all people it has to mean something.” - Gabrielle York, 1988
“Let the dead take care of the dead.” - Gabrielle York, 2013
Similar to the other matriarch of the play, Gabrielle York’s life in When the Rains Stops Falling is portrayed by two actresses: Taysha Canales and Melanye Finister. “Her family has passed and she’s been dealing with these shadows and ghosts of her family all her life.” explains Canales, who plays Gabrielle when she meets Gabriel Law in 1988. "She’s looking for something more. She feels trapped and stuck and she’s looking for an opportunity to get out of it. And she finds that with Gabriel. But unfortunately all of those ghosts come back.”
The haunting of her past continues into Gabrielle’s future as she suffers from dementia later in her life. As Melanye Finister, who plays the older Gabrielle describes, “She is trying to sort through and pick through her life to figure out what moves she made, where she went wrong. There is an intuitive sense that things are unraveling and that the end of her life is close.”
“Being turfed out of the flat on an ugly night in the middle of winter tests the patience a little.” - Joe Ryan, 2013
Joe Ryan meets a young Gabrielle in the late eighties and marries her shortly after. Steven Rishard, who plays Joe in 2013, describes him as a simple man whose life becomes diverted by the love of his wife. “Joe’s a simple guy. He had plans to be a farmer and that was changed the day he met Gabrielle. He loves her very much. He’s spending his time taking care of her and helping her move through this last part of her life.” Joe adapts naturally to the father figure role in his step-son Gabriel York’s life, as Rishard describes, “Family is family no matter what. You have to accept them no matter what."
“I am fascinated by the past. Which may, at least in part, explain the fish.” - Gabriel York, 2039
Gabriel York begins When the Rain Stops Falling by marveling at the miracle of a fish falling from the sky and the prospect of his estranged son coming to visit him. He ponders what he wants to share about his past with his son. “The whole play is essentially his back story,” says Lindsay Smiling who plays Gabriel York. “He’s just starting to ask again, where am I going? How did I get here what kind of man am I? He asks in that first monologue of the show. He gets to look at these questions in more detail and I think where he ends up is not just a gift for his son it’s a gift for himself.”
“I asked in the shop. I said what do you give a father you haven’t seen since you were seven years old?” - Andrew Price, 2039
In his second production at The Wilma Theater, Anthony Martinez-Briggs plays Andrew Price, the son of Gabriel York who meets his father for the first time. When approaching the role, Martinez-Briggs carefully explored the highly emotional state of his character: “What was said in the play ‘to have nothing to say is to really have so much to say that you don’t know where to begin.’ It’s the same way it feels to finally be in that position to see my father again. I have so much to feel that I don’t know what to feel at all.”
Despite the overwhelming meeting, Andrew’s experience helps drive home an important message of When the Rain Stops Falling: “We get to that moment, where Andrew’s concept of family becomes whole. His relationship with his father went through miles and years, but it was never truly severed. And I think that rebuilds Andrew’s whole belief about family. It truly is something that bonds you in a way that you can’t escape.”