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Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008

Paternal Conflicts

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Theprivate, personal connection of the present to the past is a tenuous one, manifesting itself only in strange, phantasmal stories passed in whispers, floating through the primitive artifacts of human language. Richard Greenberg’s Three Days of Rain explores this connection in a tight and enthralling drama. Debuting in the mid-’90s, the three-actor play has slowly garnered the breathless acclaim of critics. On Feb. 15, Windfall Theatre launches a production of the play from the intimate confines of Village Church Arts (130 E. Juneau Ave.).

Jeremy Welter stars as Walker, the son of an architect who worked alongside the father of a son named Pip, played by Robert W.C. Kennedy. The third character is Walker’s sister Nan, played here by Angela Beyer. The three characters come together to discuss the legacy of their deceased fathers—a journey that will find them discovering their secrets and mysteries.

Walker is an unbalanced drifter who missed his own father’s funeral. While the play is an ensemble piece, the story is very much his. As the play opens, Walker is living in an abandoned building once occupied by his parents. His mother has been institutionalized, and Walker’s own neurosis is the single most dynamic force in the first act. He’s an intensely demanding individual to whom the world could never offer enough.

Welter, one of the most interesting actors in Dale Gutzman’s Off the Wall Theatre over the past several years, is an intriguing choice for a role like this. He brings a pleasantly shifty stage presence, and a list of his past roles reads like a team of psych-ward allstars.

He recently played the title character in a production of Hamlet; in Dracula: Undead he played Renfield; and he played Alex in A Clockwork Orange. Not only is Welter exceedingly skilled at playing the intricately neurotic, but he seems to enjoy it as well.

Pip, who appears to be quite happy and well adjusted, plays the comic relief. Kennedy is a perfect choice for Pip. He has a cool, pragmatic presence onstage. In Windfall’s production of the Sam Shepard play A Lie of the Mind last season, Kennedy managed to have a levelheaded, calming effect even while wielding a firearm. His performance in Three Days should be an interesting one.

Beyer, a relative newcomer, isn’t given much to do in the role of Nan. The most demanding part of her performance will come near the end of the play, when the story goes back in time to relate the mystery of the elder architects firsthand. Beyer plays the smart and sexy Lina, who complicates the relationship between the fathers. Both male actors will also play the father of their respective characters in a satisfying end to a truly compelling script.

With Welter and Kennedy playing opposites, joined by the unknown quantity of Beyer, Windfall’s Three Days of Rain should prove to be an interesting drama.