By Larry Taylor/Garden Grove Journal
South Coast Repertory visits its 1997 triumph in an excellent new production of Richard Greenberg’s “Three Days of Rain,” which 14 years ago went on to Broadway success and a Pulitzer Prize nomination.
Now, David Emmen directs a fine cast in a perceptive interpretation of this complicated play. The action is divided into two sections, between characters a generation apart. Manhattan 1995 is the first act setting. Heirs to a famous architect have gathered in an abandoned Greenwich Village apartment.
They consist of the irresponsible, neurotic, Walker (played always agitated by Kevin Rahm); his responsible, disapproving sister, Nan (a scolding Susannah Schulman); and their longtime friend, soap opera idol, Pip (here an ego-centered Brendan Hines).
They have come for the reading of the will of Walker’s and Nan’s recently deceased father. He was an architect of legendary status whose partner and friend happened to be Pip’s long-dead father.
At this encounter, Walker pleads that all he wants from the estate is a famous house his father designed for his family.
It has been enshrined by a photo spread in Life magazine. The others could not care less about the house and would be happy with only the money left.
When finally read, the will reveals some surprises. As well, a journal left by the father adds additional puzzles regarding what happened decades earlier when the parents lived in this loft in 1960.
The second half clears up questions raised in the first and reveals what occurred in the “three days of rain” that was cryptically alluded to in the journal. The same performers play the parents of their first-act characters. This gives them room to stretch as their parts are opposite personalities from those in the first.
All three are excellent in their transformations. Rahm’s verbal gadfly Walker becomes Ned, his quiet contemplative father; Schulman’s low-key, responsible Nan becomes the loquacious, eccentric Southern Belle, Lina, her mother; and Hines’ self assured Pip becomesTheo, his insecure architect father.
Throughout playwright Greenberg’s dialogue crackles with wit and intelligence. There are clever allusions to Greek tragedy and contemporary architecture. Also there are many quotable lines such as one from the self-knowing Lina: “I smother the day in speech because I know nothing.”
Thomas Buderwitz’s set very effectively creates the disarray of an abandoned flat at the beginning, and then later a lived-in place, decorated in sixties minimalist – LPs shelved in cool crates and colorful pillows stacked in the right places.
And rain comes down on cue at the outside entrance, drenching shivering characters.
“Three Days of Rain” plays through June 12 on SCR’s Segerstrom Stage.