Three Days of (Bittersweet) Rain

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Presented by Hub Theatre Company of Boston
By Richard Greenberg
Directed by Daniel Bourque

April 4-19, 2014
First Church in Boston
66 Marlborough Street
Boston, MA 02116
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Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston) In Hub Theatre’s production of Three Days of Rain, audiences are gently tricked.  We are initially introduced to a family melodrama that takes place in 1995. Walker (John Geoffrion) comes to terms with his father’s death in the rundown apartment the man shared with his business partner during the sixties.  Stubborn and volatile, Walker doesn’t appear to have a great relationship with his sister, the “sane” Nan (Marty Seeger Mason), who takes him to the reading of their famous architect father’s will. They are joined by the son of his late business partner, Pip (Tim Hoover), a kind but not terribly bright soap opera actor.  With the reading of the will, the peace between the three of them deteriorates and their complex bond reforms.  So far, this is a story of despair, but it’s also just its maudlin surface.

The second act rewinds to view the generation of their parents in 1960. Each actor plays an inside-out version of their characters in the first act.  Mason’s sober Nan becomes her mother, the feisty Lina, Hoover’s gracious Pip becomes the intimidating Theo, and where Geoffrion’s Walker is impulsive and volatile, his father, Ned, is shy and quiet.  It no longer becomes a story of despair but assumptions.  The notions Walker and Nan have made–that their mother was always crazy, their father was cold and aloof, and that the relationship they had was based purely on desperation–are inaccurate. The truth is more nuanced and far sweeter.

Hub Theatre and director Daniel Bourque utilize this sweetness with impressive skill.  In their second season, the theatre company has cultivated a feel for tender dramas.  This one is shaky during its first act, with Geoffrion pushing everything that’s unlikable and unstable about Walker to the forefront and Mason’s Nan coming off initially as a suburban stick in the mud, but the story rights itself by the end.  The second act re-contextualizes the first and alters our perception with Stoppardian ease.

Marc Ewart’s set design largely works for Three Days of Rain, with certain props cleaned up and others added to the stage during intermission. In 1995, the apartment is sparsely furnished and less active than 1960, but little has changed.  The transformation is more apparent in the actors’ wardrobes and personas.

Despite the gloomy start, Three Days of Rain is an insightful play about the difference of time and point of view.  It examines family and the flawed people who make it up with sympathy. I recommend giving it a chance before the show ends its run.

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