Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Three Days Of Rain (The SOB Review) - Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, New York, NY

Three Days Of Rain (The SOB Review) - Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, New York, NY

***1/2 (out of ****)

First things first: Julia Roberts is better than the initial reviews would have you believe. Yes, her portrayal of Nan in the Broadway mounting of Richard Greenberg’s lauded play Three Days of Rain is indeed rather stiff, and yes, she does fidget with her hands throughout most of the first half of the play, but if you listen closely to the dialogue, you’ll discover that Nan herself is a bit uneasy and tightly wound.

As for the play itself, I have to confess to being quite a fan of Greenberg’s works. I can completely appreciate how this work was in contention for a Pulitzer Prize ten years ago, and I truly believe his knack for building stories around rooms and their inhabitants over time (including in the premiere of his excellent The Well-Appointed Room at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre earlier this year) make for captivating theatre. In Three Day of Rain, we first meet Nan and her brother Walker – played with enormous emotional range by Paul Rudd – after the death of their father Ned. Walker finds his father’s journal (“not diary”) and discovers that even in this case, Ned can be a man of few words, particularly as he describes the fading of his business partner Theo and a mysterious “three days of rain.”

The first act is complicated by the appearance of Nan and Walker’s childhood friend and Theo’s son Pip, portrayed with relish and charm by Bradley Cooper, who unwittingly divulges information not previously known to Walker. Pip confesses to the rather delicate detail after the three have learned that Walker has been denied the famous house his father built. We then get a true sense of Walker’s emotional state.

The second act takes us back 36 years to the same room when it was shared by Ned (Paul Rudd) and Theo (Bradley Cooper), and it’s where Julia Roberts demonstrates her star quality as the object of both men’s attention as Lina, mother to Nan and Walker. I won’t reveal much more of the plot -- even though we know who obviously gets the girl in the end, as confirmed by the play’s first act -- other than to say that Greenberg discloses what occurred on those three days of rain, which are accentuated by a glorious rainfall on stage. Most noteworthy is that Rudd delivers an breathtakingly solid, nuanced performance throughout and clearly fills this play with much of its warmth and heart.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.

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