There is a lot to sink your teeth into in the first act of Three Days of Rain, Richard Greenberg’s brilliant play about the tricks of time and family now playing at Portland Center Stage under direction of PCS artistic director Chris Coleman. Were it not for families, playwrights would have very little to write about.
It is 1995, and the play opens with an awkward meeting between Walker Janeway (Silas Weir Mitchell) and his sister, Nan (Lisa Datz). Walker disappeared after their father’s funeral several months previous, and now is crashing in the old studio once occupied by their dad, Ned, and his business partner Theo Wexler during their formative years as architects in New York City. This is Nan and Walker’s first meeting since the funeral.
Theo died young, but the pair became quite famous, designing several buildings in the city. One of the partners’ most notable accomplishments was the Janeway House on Long Island.
We learn that Nan and Walker’s mother, Lina, bears more than a passing resemblance to Zelda Fitzgerald.
There is the small matter of Ned’s diary, discovered by Walker during his stay in the abandoned apartment. Ned Janeway was a man of few words. His diary entries consist of terse phrases, including a very strange one penned in April, 1960–“three days of rain”.
Finally, there is the mystery of why Ned Janeway willed the famous Janeway House to his business partner’s son, Pip Wexler (Sasha Roiz) rather than to his own children. After the reading of Ned’s will, Pip, Nan, and Walker are flummoxed, Walker is furious, and accusations fly.
While Walker’s wrath is understandable, it is based only on surmised “truths”. To solve the mystery of the will, and other matters never known to the three heirs, we must travel back in time to 1960. In the second act, the actors play their characters’ parents, and what is revealed bears small resemblance to the family story that went to the grave with Ned Janeway. Here we learn how time has warped the truth and obscured a story even larger than originally believed.
Portlanders, and indeed anyone familiar with the NBC series GRIMM, will recognize Silas Weir Mitchell and Sasha Roiz as two of the TV show’s principals. They prove themselves as comfortable and able on stage as they are before the camera, and more than fill these challenging roles. Their deft performances play well with Lisa Datz, who boasts a long list of credits, including Broadway, television, and film.
Another remarkable character in this play is the set. To evoke a lower Manhattan studio circa 1960, scenic director Scott Fyfe created towering exposed brick walls. This feat required an army of local artisans and painters assembled to build a huge set and props, and hand-paint each realistic brick.
Three Days of Rain runs now through June 21 in Portland Center Stage’s Gerding Theatre. (Photo by Patrick Weishampel.)