Review: Three Days of Rain (Backstage Theatre)

        
        

Another memorable production from Backstage

  
  

Rebekah Ward-Hays & John Henry Roberts - Three Days of Rain

   
Backstage Theatre Company presents
       

Three Days of Rain

  
  
Written by Richard Greenberg
Directed by Matthew Reeder
at the
Viaduct Theatre, 3111 N. Western (map)
through June 25  |  tickets: $10-$22  |  more info

Reviewed by Jason Rost

We are often fascinated by the story of who our parents were before they had children since it is essentially how we came to exist. It helps us understand the lives of the most influential people in your life, and it guides us in our own quest for love and self definition. This idea played a large role in Backstage Theatre Company’s Memory, their impressive first play of their season. Other times these stories, as is the case in Richard Greenberg’s Three Days of Rain (known to many theatergoers as the play Julia Roberts flatly debuted in on Broadway), can be a great mystery to obsess upon for years. The overriding mystery is what binds six fascinating characters together played by three actors. Artistic Director Matthew Reeder’s direction in this Backstage production is strikingly human, intimate and traipses through these characters’ lives like a lone jazz trumpet traveling through time accompanied by well-suited recordings of Miles Davis doing the real thing.

Rebekah Ward-Hays & Tony BozzutoIn present day downtown Manhattan (or maybe more so the mid-90’s if you really do the math on years referenced) we meet Walker (John Henry Roberts) in a sparse spacious apartment. He is intellectual, searching and a narcissist. After disappearing in Italy his family had thought him dead. More specifically, his sister Nan (Rebekah Ward-Hays) and his old friend Pip (Tony Bozzuto) thought so. Upon finding his recently deceased father’s journal, Walker attempts to decipher the cryptic seemingly commonplace entries. Walker believes that his parents “married because by 1960 they had reached a certain age and they were the last ones left in the room.” Nan struggles with Walker’s return and his obsession with their father’s journal. Pip, a soap-opera star, has history with Nan, and Walker was – or still is – in love with him, causing interesting tension when any combination of the three of them is on stage.

Walker and Nan’s father Ned (also played by Roberts) was a great architect, or at least built one impressive house. Pip is the son of their father’s partner, Theo. In the second act Bozzuto, Roberts and Ward-Hays all take on the roles of their parents in the 1960’s. Greenberg’s writing is smart in how it takes certain words or phrases you hear in the first act and sprinkles them in the second act, showing you the roots of these ultimately poetic characters in linguistic parallels. We bear witness to all that Walker, Nan and Pip could not possibly know even if the stories were retold or handed down. They would have changed as all stories do through the course of history. Nevertheless, a few small words which Ned (Walker and Nan’s father) writes down carries all the weight in the world for each character involved in this play. Even if the meaning of those words died with Ned, they still have impacted the lives of these people profoundly whether the truth is known or not.

The performances of these six difficult characters to play are worthy. The hurdle is portraying two different characters that are clueless to what the other knows and yet finding the connection between them. John Henry Roberts was stiff at times on opening night and hit an occasional false note as Walker at first, but he eventually relaxed into the role and became fascinating during the ritual that ends the act. As Walker’s father, Ned, he brings a very different character to the stage that is vivacious and electric to watch. Ward-Hays is magnificent in her balance of anger and love as Nan, and then in her dreamier and more sexually charged performance as Lina. Bozzuto is dynamic displaying an exciting capability for detailed physical choices.

          
Tony Bozzuto & John Henry Roberts in Backstage Theatre's "Three Days of Rain" by Richard Greenberg. (photo: Hays)  Rebekah Ward-Hays & Tony Bozzuto in Backstage Theatre's "Three Days of Rain" by Richard Greenberg. (photo: Hays)
Tony Bozzuto in Backstage Theatre's "Three Days of Rain" by Richard Greenberg. (photo: Hays) Rebekah Ward-Hays & John Henry Roberts

Reeder makes a brilliant choice opening the second act by allowing the characters of Theo and Ned to spend the first couple minutes transforming the space in front of our eyes, bringing life into the abandoned apartment and turning it into an invigorating Manhattan architectural workspace of the 1960’s. It’s the same apartment as in the first act, but the makeover of the room is akin to time travel. Brandon Wardell’s set fills the Viaduct space perfectly, and his lighting on the windows does wonders to create the ambiance of the physical and emotional setting.

Greenberg’s non-linear storytelling is thought-provoking as only we, the audience, know the true gravitas of the words, “Three days of rain,” which Ned enters into his journal. However, perhaps this is the nature of history; it can never be retold exactly, nor needs to be. Walker and Nan come to their own necessary closure with their parents’ ambiguous history, and their father took his memories to the grave. What’s clear is that Backstage Theatre Company continues to excel in creating memories for theatergoers that are definitely unforgettable.

    
  
Rating: ★★★½
   
   

Rebekah Ward-Hays & John Henry Roberts

Performances for Three Days of Rain run every Thursday through Saturday at 7 p.m. and every Sunday at 3 p.m., from May 20th through June 25th. No performance June 16th, added performance Monday, June 6th at 7:00 p.m. General admission tickets are $25, senior tickets are $22, and student tickets (with a valid ID) are $10. Group rates are available. Tickets are available through the Viaduct Theatre by phone, (773) 296-6024. For more information about BackStage Theatre Company and Three Days of Rain, visit www.backstagetheatrecompany.org.

     

     
     

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Think fast: Blue Moon Ball, Debbie Reynolds, Backstage Theatre’s “On An Average Day”

 

Memorial Day Special from Backstage Theatre Company

After several years with no contact, two brothers are reunited in the stinking kitchen of their decrepit childhood home. Bob, a sociopathic slob, is currently standing trial, while his older brother Jack seems successful and disciplined. Both are nursing personal demons and one holds the sobering truth behind their haunted upbringing. With echoes of Shepard's True West, this modern tale of two estranged brothers uses poetic imagery and razor-sharp dialogue to drive home it's dramatic conclusion.On An Average Day
by John Kolvenbach

Jeff Recommended!

Memorial Day Sale!  All performances this weekend are only $15

 

No special codes needed!  Simply show up at the door or purchase “Memorial Weekend Discount” tickets online.  Tonight to kick the weekend off; Saturday after the barbecue; any show, EVERY show between now and Sunday is $5 off. 

Performing at Chemically Imbalanced Theater, 1420 W Irving Park
Directed by New Artistic Director, Matthew Reeder

 

Dinner, Swing & Fire! Dinner at Galleria Marchetti, Gypsy swing with

 

img_297896_primary SingingKathy

One of my favorite movies of all time is “Singing In The Rain”, so it’s exciting to hear that Debbie Reynolds will be performing this summer at Drury Lane Oakbrook on August 6-9 (along with music director Joey Singer)! Visit www.drurylaneoakbrook.com for more info. Maybe I’ll see you there…

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Theater Thursday: Backstage Theatre’s "The Memory of Water"

Thursday, March 26

The Memory of Water    by Shelagh Stephenson

BackStage Theatre Company at Chemically Imbalanced Theatre

1420 W. Irving Park Rd., Chicago

The Memory of WaterThis touching and hugely entertaining comedy provides insight into the lives of three sisters who are reunited for their mother’s funeral. The siblings reminisce about their childhood, but find that personal grievances have colored their memories. This powerful examination of the complexities of family is as emotional as it is hilarious. Join BackStage Theatre for a wine and hors d’oeuvres post-show discussion featuring ensemble members, as well as other members of the cast, crew, and BackStage Family! Don’t miss this gritty comedy!  

Show begins at 7:30 p.m.

Event begins following the performance at 9 p.m.
TICKETS ONLY $25
For reservations click here.

For more information, on Backstage Theatre, visit their official blog.

 

Jeff-Recommended-Blackandwhite

The Memory of Trees has been Jeff Recommended.

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