Section: Arts

Subtle, complex performances shine in Three Days of Rain

Subtle, complex performances shine in Three Days of Rain

Richard Greenberg’s Three Days of Rain has two acts, three actors and six characters that span two generations.

This play is complex. Each actor plays two different roles, the events are not in chronological order and each character  is dealing with an important impasse in their life. Nevertheless, Clara Mooney ’17 and Alex Kirshy ’17 decided to take on the challenge for their senior thesis.

“I just remember picking it up and just not being able to put it down,” Mooney said, “and being able to see and hear it in my brain.”

In the first act, Kirshy stars as Walker Janeway, a loud and unstable man who has just returned from a year in Italy following his father’s death and becomes obsessed with his late father’s journal. The play begins after Walker has returned to New York to attend the reading of his father’s will. Kirshy works well alongside Emma Daily ’18, who plays Walker’s sister Nan, and Chris Stevens ’17, as Walker’s old friend Pip Wexler. Stevens also acted in You Got Older, which went up the same weekend.

Under Mooney’s direction, the cast remained in sync even when the characters had to be in completely different headspaces. At certain points, Mooney chose to have characters upstage themselves by talking out a window on the back wall of the stage or by speaking to a character upstage of them. While this is normally the number one “don’t” of directing, the risk paid off. Mooney’s direction used the full space of the stage and illustrated the shifts in power dynamics as the play moved forward.

“The script called for these two separate spaces  — the apartment and the street below,” Mooney said, “and I needed to find a way to use the space as economically as possible.”

In the first act, Kirshy played his character well. He hit all of his marks and seemed to play the character with ease. It was in the second act, however, when he plays a young version of Walker’s father Ned, that he really broke through and delivered a stunning performance. The second act takes the play back 45 years and tells the story of a mysterious entry Walker discovered in his father’s journal: “1960, April 3-5. Three days of rain.”

Ned’s character required a subtlety that wasn’t needed in Kirshy’s previous performance. Ned is unassuming and speaks with a stutter, but Kirshy remained at the center of every scene because of the endearing qualities  — such as a sweet demeanor and soft tone of voice  — that he brought out in his character.

Where the stuttering could have become a nuisance, it didn’t. Where Ned could have slipped into a secondary role, he didn’t. And where Kirshy could have downplayed the complexity of such a quiet character, he refused.

The amount of work that Kirshy put into this character and the risks that Mooney took in her directing paid off tenfold. The second act of Three Days of Rain took the play from a good, but typical, senior thesis to an outstanding production of an extremely complicated and potentially cumbersome production.

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