Richard Greenberg drama has met with considerable acclaim since its
California debut in the ’90s. The first act, set in 1995, features two
sons and one daughter of a visionary pair of architects meeting to
discuss the mysteries behind their parents’ inheritance. The second
act, set three and a half decades earlier, features the two architects
at a crucial point in their working relationship that sheds light on
The contemporary end of the play is remarkably compelling theater. Jeremy Welter cunningly plays Walker—the existentially tormented son of one of the most influential architects of his time. Angela Beyer brings an intelligent compassion to the stage in the role of Walker’s sister, Nan. She has been trying to track her brother down for quite some time. He periodically disappears for years on end, only occasionally resurfacing to say hello. Brother and sister are soon joined by Pip, the TV actor son of their father’s partner in architecture, played by Robert W.C. Kennedy. Judging from the script, the role was written for someone with a squarejawed GQ-model sort of look about him. Not being cursed with such vacant handsomeness, Kennedy does a clever job of steering the character in a more interesting direction.
The dynamic between Kennedy, Welter and Beyer is both compelling and believable. The story leading in to intermission is intricately engrossing on many levels. The dialogue is smart, concise and feels exceedingly natural. The characters are three very interesting people. The mysteries of their parents make the characters’ reality that much more interesting.
The problem with this comes after intermission. The second act endeavors to reveal the truth behind the mystery of these two architects. It does it so completely that it ceases to be interesting. While the dramatic cause and effect that forges identity is remarkably well crafted, it’s a bit dull seeing it all play out in the end. In the second act, Greenberg seems to be simply finishing the equation he started in the first act. Some mysteries are better left as mysteries. That being said, the play is well worth seeing for its first act. Don’t expect much after intermission, though.