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Perception vs reality
Three people explore their families' past in the Civic's Three Days of Rain
By Michael Summers
Fort Wayne Reader
To paraphrase L.P. Hartley, the past is a foreign country. You can know the basic facts, but what really happens there — or happened — and why and how, is almost impossible to understand.
And when it involves family, seeing the truth can be even more difficult.
The way our own personalities act as filters to the way we perceive the past is one of the main themes of Three Days of Rain, a Civic Off-Main production directed by Jeff Casazza that begins its three-weekend run October 3 at the Allen County Public Library.
Nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for drama, Three Days of Rain (written by Richard Greenberg) opens in 1995 in a Manhattan loft, where three people, childhood friends, have reunited for the reading of a will. Then, in the second act, it shifts to 1960, with the same three actors playing the parents of the characters in the first act.
In the first act, it’s been a year since successful architect Ned Janeway died, and his son and daughter Walker (Adam Hamilton) and Nan (Jane Frazier) have met for a reading of the will. Pip Wexler (Jacob Bouchard), the son of their father’s former business partner Theo, is also there, as instructed in the will.
The relationship between the three is complicated. Nan and Walker haven’t seen each other in the year since their father died and Walker disappeared. “Walker’s a very mysterious character,” says Adam Hamilton. “He’s very unstable and he’s always in pain. I think it all became too much for him. His mother is mentally ill; he’s seen her run through glass doors when he was eight years old. His father didn’t talk to him. I think it was all too much and he needed to get away.”
This doesn’t sit well with Nan, a protective wife and mother who is fed up with her younger brother’s actions. “She’s very logical, and her brother is very much the opposite,” says Jane Frazier. “She’s angry. She’s tired of him not taking responsibility for his actions.”
Then there’s Pip, whose father died when he was three years old. Pip is a successful actor who plays a character named “Beaut” in a soap opera, and Jacob Bouchard says Pip is almost exactly the kind of guy you might think of when you think “soap opera star” — always smiling, always trying to make people laugh or put them at ease. “Since I’m playing him I’d like to think there is some depth to him,” Bouchard says. “But he’s much more comfortable on the surface of things than getting into anything real or scary.”
Nan loves Pip; they had a romance once upon a time, but that’s no longer there. “I think she has a lot of respect for Pip, because no matter what happens, he can see the bright side of things, and think she respects and maybe envies that,” says Frazier.
Things between Pip and Walker are a little more… complicated. Though friendly, the two have “issues” which become exacerbated after the will is read. Walker was hoping to be given the famous Janeway House, the project on which their father’s firm built its reputation and success. “He wants something in his life that’s definite,” says Adam Hamilton. “He wants somewhere to feel at home.”
Instead, the Janeway House goes to Pip. With little but a sketchy journal to guide him — an almost cryptic, that makes no sense, an almost cryptic “just the facts” account of the partnership — Walker comes to the conclusion that it was Theo who actually designed the house, not his father.
The truth, though, is a little more complicated, and almost completely different, from what the three characters in 1995 believe, and that’s what we see in the second act, when we finally meet Pip’s ego-centric father Theo (“I won’t say this in a newspaper, but he’s an… well, he’s not nice” says Bouchard); the more reflective Ned, a stutterer who relies on Theo to do his talking for him; and Nan and Walker’s mother Lina. “At this point, she’s not crazy yet,” says Frazier. “She’s very free-spirited, somewhat a bohemian, not conservative at all. She wants to enjoy life.”
At first, the parents and children seem almost like opposites — Theo is self-centered while Pip is personable; Ned is a focused professional while Walker is aimless; Lina is a free spirit while Nan is dedicated to order and responsibility.
But perceptions and the way they differ from reality is what Three Days of Rain is all about. “We think we see something, we think we know what it is, and sometimes we do, and sometimes we don’t,” says Jane Frazier. “That’s what I love about this play, they way you think one thing, but everything changes in Act II. It’s beautifully written, and a great way to tell a story like this.”
The Fort Wayne Civic Theatre “Off Main” presents Three Days of Rain
Friday and Saturday, October 3 and 4 at 8 pm; Sunday October 5 at 2 pm
Friday and Saturday, October 10 and 11 at 8 pm; Sunday October 12 at 2 pm
Friday and Saturday, October 17 and 18 at 8 pm; Sunday October 19 at 2 pm.
Allen County Public Library
Tickets: adults $15; ages 23 and under $10; seniors and Sunday matinees $12
Box Office: (260) 424.5220 or online: www.fwcivic.org