Three Days of Rain
Few young stage companies risk as much or succeed as well as Penfold Theatre Company does
Reviewed by Elizabeth Cobbe, Fri., Oct. 2, 2009
Three Days of Rain
The Hideout Theatre, through Oct. 3
Running time: 2 hr, 15 min
There are many things that Penfold Theatre Company does right with its production of Richard Greenberg's Three Days of Rain. But first, let's talk about Anne McMeeking's set.
These guys have bona fide rain on the stage of the Hideout, a 49-seat space not famous for its technical flexibility. More often than not, it's low-tech improv groups who perform there, not theatre companies with full-blown sets and falling water. This rain isn't just a light sprinkle for a few moments, either; it's not sound effects of rainfall and actors running in with dripping umbrellas. McMeeking has water falling for the better part of the second half of the play. Not a lot of small, young theatre companies would take that chance and go for the difficult choice and then do it well.
The same holds true for the larger production. Greenberg's play features two generations of a family, with each actor in the three-person cast playing first a member of the younger generation, then one of their counterparts from the 1960s who did such a good job of screwing up the kids. All three actors have the challenge of creating characters who are distinct yet related. They fare well, especially Sean Martin, whose father/son pair shares elements from the same brand of crazy, but their expression is nearly opposite.
The story is deceptively simple, about a visionary architect who builds a house and after he dies, what happens to those who inherit it. Greenberg takes the available metaphor and expands on it without driving it into the ground. A house is a home, and the home that architect Ned Janeway (the elder half of Sean Martin's father/son duo) designs is remarkable, fantastic, and deeply flawed, even doomed. The play opens soon after Ned has died, and his children and the son of Ned's onetime business partner (Nathan Jerkins) have gathered to learn who will inherit what he has left behind. Not surprisingly, they each have conflicting feelings about it.
One of the more touching details in the script is how Ned's children Walker and Nan (Sarah Gay) try to feed themselves and each other. Nan seems slightly obsessed with the idea of Walker eating; Walker forgets about eating for days at a time, and for him, going to a restaurant presents a special form of social trauma. His most thoughtful action in the play is a trip to a deli that results in an inedible mix of bizarre food choices. As adults, they appear as abandoned children, aware that they have to care for themselves but unable to do so.
As director, Ryan Crowder does a much better job of bringing together a strong combination of quality ingredients. A solid cast, a thoughtful script, and a smart design team make up a fine evening of theatre.