Three Days of Rain
|Three Days Rain|
|Written by||Richard Greenberg|
|Characters||2 male, 1 female|
|Place premiered||South Coast Repertory
Costa Mesa, California
|Setting||Manhattan, United States|
Three Days of Rain is a play by Richard Greenberg that was commissioned and produced by South Coast Repertory in 1997. The title comes from a line from W. S. Merwin's poem, "For the Anniversary of My Death" (1967). The play has often been called Stoppardian but Greenberg says he wasn't aware of Stoppard's work before he wrote the play but instead claims 1967 BBC series The Forsyte Saga was a much greater influence. Three Days of Rain was nominated for the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Walker and his sister Nan meet in an unoccupied studio in lower Manhattan in 1995. Walker, having disappeared the day after his father's funeral, has taken up residence in this apartment where once his father Ned Janeway and business partner, Theo Wexler, had lived and worked designing the famous "Janeway House". Nan and Walker's childhood friend Pip (the son of Theo) meets with them after the reading of Ned's Will, where it is revealed that Ned's children did not inherit "Janeway House", it instead was left to Pip. Walker is furious over this and, after the reading, hurls accusations of Pip "working on" his father in order to get the house bequeathed to him. Pip refuses, merely stating that he did no such thing and doesn't understand why it wasn't left to the next of kin. Pip then reveals how he doesn't even like the house, which throws Walker into another tirade. Pip finally has had enough of Walker's ranting, and verbally fights back at Walker. It is confessed that Pip knows that Walker was secretly in love with him for 18 years, and that Pip and Nan were secretly sleeping with one another (behind Walker's back) when they were young. This spurs a feeling of ultimate betrayal in Walker, who runs off into the night. Pip relents that he may have gone too far and agrees with Nan to sell Walker the house to make her life easier. She is still distraught after being unable to find Walker and give him the good news, and decides to stay at the studio until he returns. After Walker returns, Nan apologizes and the two of them proceed to debate Ned's concise and mysterious journal which opens with the entry: "1960, April 3–5. Three days of rain". Walker believes he's found a confession from Ned, hidden within the pages of the book, stating that once Theo had died in 1966, that he took credit for Theo's work on the house. Nan doesn't believe this to be the case, but acquiesces to calm her brother down. She informs him that Pip agreed to sell him the house, but Walker's newfound "revelation" changes his mind about wanting it. Walker ends up burning the diary, thus committing Ned's last existing thoughts to ashes, much to the chagrin of Nan (who wanted to read the journal herself, without Walker filtering its contents through his wild, nonsensical brain).
The second act shifts to that earlier time, with the same three actors portraying members of the previous generation in the same studio apartment, during the fateful April 1960 when Janeway House was designed. Walker becomes his father Ned, Pip his own father Theo, and Nan becomes her and Walker's mother, Lina. The assumptions made in the first half about their parents are shown to be wildly different. Ned is not the callous, silent patriarch the children think of him as. Instead he is a shy stutterer, and whereas an immensely talented architect, has trouble making eye contact or holding a conversation with anyone. Theo is revealed to be a charismatic man, more concerned with fame and the idea of art, rather than the creation of any original art itself. Lina, a bohemian southern belle, is dating Theo and their arguments are loud enough to inform the entire neighborhood as to their relationship problems. Theo and Ned attempt to design the house commissioned by Ned's parents, but runs into a roadblock when Ned finds that Theo has been plagiarizing pre-existing structures and architecture. Ned and Theo have a fight, prompting Theo to leave to work in solitude.
A few days later, Ned runs into Lina during a rainstorm, and they both decide to return to the Studio to escape the downpour. Ned invites Lina to stay for dinner, which in turn leads to each of them revealing the issues that plague their relationships and their business. Lina decides it is best to leave before she gives in to Ned's unintentional shy sweetness, only to eavesdrop on Ned practicing telling Lina that he secretly loves her. It is at that point she realizes that she is with the wrong man, and she confronts Ned about his unintentional confession, which in turn leads to them spending 3 days in bed. Theo returns early from his work retreat, not expecting to find Ned or Lina at the Studio. He is embarrassed and leaves, with Ned trailing after him. Ned attempts to apologize, but finds that Theo is more upset about the fact that he has failed as the talent part of their partnership by returning without having created any new blueprints. Ned is distraught that Theo hasn't returned with any new work, as well as that he essentially stole his girlfriend as well. Lina persuades Ned that Theo will be OK, and that he should take the emotion he's feeling and create the house she knows he sees in his imagination. He acquiesces and sits down to begin drawing. It is at this point revealed that the Janeway House was in fact designed by Ned (not Theo, like Walker previously opines), and most likely left to Pip in Ned's will, as he wants his to allow his son to experience life as a "Flaneur" and not be tied down to a permanent residence.
Walker/Ned Walker: A quirky and unstable young man, haunted by what he sees as a destructive and unloving relationship with his parents. He has a habit of disappearing suddenly in order to avoid dealing with real life. Ned: Walker and Nan's father, despite his son's depiction of him as cold and uncaring, in his youth he was a stuttering, shy, and talented architect.
Pip/Theo Pip: A proudly naïve TV actor and family friend of the Janeway's. Handsome, and not as dumb as he looks, he is constantly frustrated by others taking their lives so seriously, and can't fathom why people see the need to incite drama. Theo: Pip's father and Ned's business partner. A very charismatic man who is more interested in fame and the accolades that come with it, than creating the art that would earn it.
Nan/Lina Nan: A practical, kind woman. Caring about her family and friends, she finds it difficult to balance her frustration at her brother Walker's craziness and Pip's naiveté. Lina: Nan and Walker's mother. A southern belle, easily changeable and tempestuous, beginning to show some of the signposts of mental instability.
The play received its New York premiere in 1997 at the Manhattan Theatre Club featuring Patricia Clarkson, John Slattery and Bradley Whitford. It was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and has enjoyed many subsequent productions in regional theatres across the United States and abroad.
The most famous production to date was on Broadway, with Julia Roberts make her stage debut. Opening on April 2006 at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, she was co-starred with Paul Rudd, and Bradley Cooper. Although it was certainly the most eagerly awaited show of the Broadway season in the popular press, it met with poor response from theatrical reviewers and closed as scheduled in June 2006.
Seattle Public Theater Production
The Seattle Public Theater (at Green Lake) produced Three Days of Rain in February 2008. The dual role of Walker/Ned was played by Evan Whitfield,Peter Dylan O'Connor as Theo/Pip and Nan/Lina, played by Sheila Daniels, the recently-named Associate Director of the Intiman Theater in Seattle. The production was directed by Aimée Bruneau.
A production of Three Days Of Rain directed by Jamie Lloyd played at the Apollo Theatre in London from January to May in 2009 starring James McAvoy as Walker/Ned, Nigel Harman as Pip/Theo and Lyndsey Marshal as Nan/Lina.
The Very Little Theater Production
The Very Little Theater in Eugene, Oregon produced Three Days of Rain in April 2011. The cast consisted of Jay Hash as Walker/Ned, Sydney Behrends as Nan/Lina, and James Lee as Theo/Pip. The production was directed by Sarah Etherton.
South Coast Repertory
David Emmes is the director of the Three Days of Rain production at SCR in Orange County (beginning in May 2011). It stars Kevin Rahm as Walker/Ned, Brendan Hines as Pip/Theo, and Susannah Schulman as Nan/Lina. This is the first time the play is returning to SCR after its premiere in 1997.
Carte Blanche Stage Company
Three Days of Rain was produced by Carte Blanche Stage Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in January 2013. Directed by Bo Johnson, starring Nathanael Press as Walker/Ned, Rebecca Segal as Nan/Lina, and Matt Wickey as Pip/Theo.
- Richard Greenberg: the invisible playwright - Telegraph
- Richard Greenberg, Three Days of Rain: A Play, New York: Grove, 1997. P. 1.
- Colin Firth in Three Days of Rain - a discussion of the play (part 2)
- Three Days Of Rain | The Official London Theatre Guide
- Theater Review - Three Days of Rain - Review - Theater - NYTimes.com