Sunday, May 25, 2008
Acclaimed local actress Rosina Reynolds directs the Compass production and gets strong performances from her three actors. & I liked seeing this character-driven work in Compass' rough-hewn, intimate space. & I was so drawn into the staging and story, which included a rain sound effect during the second act, I half expected rain to start leaking through the roof above me. & I wondered at one point if seeing Three Days of Rain in a large theater would diminish some of its power. & I was certainly grateful for the modest surroundings.
Three Days of Rain has two acts, three characters and two time periods. & The first act takes place in 1995 in a ratty New York apartment where Walker (Sean Cox), and his sister, Nan (Christy Yael) gather before hearing the will of their father Ned, a famous architect. They are joined by their childhood friend Pip (Jason Heil) whose father Theo was Ned's partner in a successful architecture firm. & Walker is brilliant, neurotic, manic depressive, and tormented by his father's talent and remoteness. & Nan is exhausted by a lifetime of worrying about her brother as well as their institutionalized, mentally unstable mother. & And Pip is a beefy actor who is infinitely cheerful and practical about life. Pip was close to Ned, because his father Theo died when he was three, and he and Ned shared an easy relationship fueled by a love of sports, which infuriates Walker who longed to connect with his near silent father. & This first act moves along with the force of Walker's roaming mind, the revelation of secrets, and Greenberg's sense of humor. & The performances from all three actors are at their strongest in this act, with Heil being particularly well cast as Pip.
The second act takes us back to 1960, when Ned (Sean Cox - all three actors return to play the younger versions of their parents) and Theo (Jason Heil) are just starting out as architects. & Theo is dating a Zelda Fitzgerald-like character named Lina (Christy Yael). & Lina is southern and tortured, and fond of burbon. I've always thought the aesthetic qualities of the word "burbon" are increased ten-fold when laced with a southern drawl. & Lina, like all the characters, is prone to dropping literary references and casually referring to Heidegger . & Her southern belle is a little too stereotypical for my taste, all souped up on desire and volatility to break the mold. & But it's a small annoyance and Yael does a lot to rein in the role. & This act drags only a little, in part because Ned has a stutter that breaks the spell of the dialogue and Cox seems to occasionally struggle with integrating it. &
This brings up what an actor's dream this play must be - in the first act Cox is playing Walker's manic, loquacious neurotic and in the second he switches to Ned, a restrained, shy stutterer. & Both are geniuses on different sides of the same coin. This is really Walker and Ned's story and they get the best lines. & Walker is melancholic and feels superior because of it. & Some of the funniest lines come out of his disdain and snobbery. Ned is shy at the beginning but slowly reveals his character; & he has a riff on children that is both funny and telling. &
Audiences have to exercise some brain muscle with this play. & It's smart. & There are connections to be made and greater ideas at work. & It's well worth the effort, and the humor lightens the load. Oh, and there's the rain, fake or not, it sounds so refreshing in our endlessly fair city. This Compass production of Three Days of Rain will remind you that, even if we don't have much rain in San Diego, what we do have is good theater, both big and small.
Three Days of Rain will be on stage at Compass Theater in Hillcrest through June 16th. &