ADVERTISING AT CURTAINUP
Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp London Review
Three Days of Rain
The play may often be used as a star vehicle but it is unarguably no easy one for celebrities seeking effortless stage credibility. Greenberg's dialogue is interspersed with quasi-didactic monologues, and there is wit, insanity and erudition (with references to Heidigger, Hegel and Sophocles to name a few). This is all placed within the context of familial dysfunction and damage. And finally, the clever structure sees the cast of three analeptically play their own parents , leaping back from the 1990s to 1960s.
For an in depth plot synopsis, follow the link at the bottom of this page to read archived reviews. To provide a quick overview: two children of a famous, recently deceased architect gather to hear the contents of his will. They find his journal with mystifyingly brief, mundane entries in his long-disused loft and, after fairly fruitless scrutiny, set fire to it. As if this sacrificial act releases history, the second half then portrays the crucial, eponymous three days when their fates were sealed.
James McAvoy heads up the accomplished cast. He plays two very different characters but masterfully recreates certain shared, father-son mannerisms. As Walker, the city nomad or "fleneur" of his father's dream, he delivers incredibly articulate speeches in a sparkling, energetic style. With childish, manic volubility, he recites stories from his past with ironic ostentation and moving pathos. As Walker's reticent father, Ned, McAvoy's performances manages to explicate many of the enigmatic, family riddles of the first half.
Lyndsey Marshal plays Nan, Walker's slightly hard, reserved, yet better adjusted sister, in addition to their brash, outgoing mother Lina, who shows only a few, unhinged hints of her later insanity. Nigel Harman's two characters are more similar, both egoistic, confident and bordering on the arrogant. As the "torpid", "dunce" Pip, the topless soap star, he revels in the uncomplicated pleasures of a simple life. As Ned's partner Theo, he is a self-spin doctor who is "honing his own legend" and we see a man struggling on the brink of fame.
Soutra Gilmour's design of the abandoned loft apartment is atmospherically dilapidated, with begrimed windows and cobwebbed corners. During the 1960s flashback, the scene is populated with signs of bohemian habitation. A corridor of outside alleyway sits at the front of the stage allowing for an impressive thunderstorm and a cleverly transparent, extra screen of action.
The sheer clarity of this production elicits what is great about this play: its intelligent parallelisms and its sense of circular destiny. This Three Days of Rain enjoys strong performances and a sense of classic lucidity, which allows Greenberg's superior text the freedom to speak for itself.
Three Days of Rain(LA) 2001
Three Days of Rain (Broadway 2006)
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
Click image to buy.