Three Days of Rain
Despite its problems, Mainline Theater Project's 'Three Days of Rain' succeeds in showing us two sets of young people puzzling out who they are and want to be
Reviewed by Robert Faires, Fri., May 27, 2005
Three Days of Rain
Hyde Park Theatre, through May 28
"Three days of rain." A cryptic entry in a worn old notebook, but a restless young man believes it may hold a clue to the character of the famous father he never really knew while the man was alive. In the small, spare apartment where the father and his partner designed their first great architectural work Janeway House, a residence described in the admiring, reverent tones used for Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece, Fallingwater Walker Janeway strives to decipher the messages left in the journal his late father kept in those days, the period in which Ned Janeway launched not only his career but his romance with Lina, the woman he would marry and start a family with.
For the first half of Richard Greenberg's intriguing Three Days of Rain, we watch Walker wrestle with the ghost of his father through conversations and arguments he has with his sister Nan and Pip Wexler, the son of the elder Janeway's partner, Theodore, and the person to whom Ned left the treasured Janeway House. Together, they rake over the past until raw emotions are exposed among all three, but though the action reveals much about who these young people are at this point in time, it yields precious little in the way of answers to the questions that haunt Walker. In the second half, however, Greenberg turns back the clock to show us what Walker can only speculate about: the events that led to that enigmatic journal entry and the character of the man who wrote it. We see Ned and Theodore and Lina as they were at the ages of Walker, Nan, and Pip in the first act, anxious over their futures and still frantically puzzling out who they want to be. Greenberg offers us a view of what is so often lost to us as sons and daughters over time: the life our parents lived and the struggles they faced in shaping their identities before they became our parents.
The structure of Three Days of Rain is simple and elegant, as is its use of one set and just three actors to fill the six roles. But all this simplicity is deceptive; the show demands much of its few elements. The loft apartment must be shown at two points 35 years apart, and the actors must embody two sets of related yet completely different characters in dramatically different eras. At times here one has the feeling that the reach of the three actors in this Mainline Theater Project production has exceeded their grasp. Actors R. Bryan Peterson, Marisa Pisano, and Bryan Schneider don't always bring as much variety to their respective roles as they could, tending to rely on the same steady tempo and primary emotional colors throughout when occasionally speeding up the delivery of a speech or playing up the humor or sexual tension between characters would add more depth to their characters and drama to their story. Still, they approach the material with an earnestness that seems suited to the characters, and they project an intimacy with one another that, even when the romantic chemistry between certain figures isn't apparent, feels true to the people they play. Their struggles with identity and direction, with loyalties and old ties, come across as genuine and carry us through the richly written script. And in the case of Peterson who directed and designed the set as well as acts in the production it leads to a nuanced performance that drives the second act; his Ned Janeway starts out reserved, self-deprecating, shy, one whose downward glance and stutter show how he has consigned himself to the back row in life, watching as others dare great things and reap the rewards, but then Peterson shows us how his desire for Lina and her encouragement embolden him and coax him forward to design his own future. It's no coincidence that Greenberg makes the character an architect of a great residence. This is a story about young people figuring out what they want their lives to be and how they shape the place that has meaning and fulfillment for them in the way that we all have to do eventually. We all have to build a home for ourselves.