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In the Pulitzer Prize finalist award-winning play, "Three Days of Rain," Richard Greenberg has a lot to cover.

Exploring the characteristics, aspirations, motivations, emotions and foibles of six people, all related in some way...by blood, by love, both familial and romantic, by history, and more, all in two hours--it's a heckuva job.

Given the wealth of detail he would impart, it is fitting that Greenberg permits his characters to offer narrative exposition, providing the audience the "back story" of two families, intimately entwined.

The play opens with the aptly named Walker (Brian S. Kraszewski)-who has a tendency to amble off at inappropriate times, like his father's funeral-explaining his relationship with his father, the nearly mute Ned, who was one part of a famed 2-man architect-team of Theo Wexler and Ned Janeway, whose buildings speckle parts of New York City.

Now reunited with his sister, Nan (Melissa O'Brien Hickle), in the very studio where Theo and Ned launched their careers in the early 1960s, Walker surprises Nan with the discovery of his father's journal.

As Walker, Kraszewski has a slight halting in his voice and a hesitation in his expression as if he has already declared his lines, his voice and face just haven't caught up with them yet. I wondered whether this was due to the script which, though brilliantly written, seemed more like a novel read aloud. Or perhaps it was an affectation of Walker's character-highly intelligent, an emotional misfit who once "decided to get a hamburger and it didn't work out," he is the "flaneur" (from the French, meaning a stroller or one who "walks the city in order to experience it") which Kraszewski, playing his own father, describes in the play's second act as his dream career. Or it could be that Kraszewski had first act jitters, who knows?

Mr. Kraszewski's measured, if not tentative, delivery was spot-on in the role of Ned, Walker's nebbish father, complete with wool sweater vest and an innate lack of social skills, but with an appealing geekish warmth. When his budding love interest, Lina (Ms. Hickle) asks him to make small talk while she changes out of wet clothes, he blurts out, "Do you believe in original sin?" to which comes Lina's clever reply, "No, I haven't seen any good movies lately, thank you."

Hickle's Nan is the voice of normalcy, straining to balance her love for her meandering brother with her desire to escape a crazed and jumbled past--being the responsible one in a family as imagined by Eugene O'Neill and Truman Capote (eccentric, stylish, and New York-brand-dsyfunctional with a sprinkle of just plain nuts). Toss in Jason Krznarich as the larger-than-life Theo and his chip-off-the-block son, Pip, and you have a delight to behold.

As good as the cast is, they excel at least in part due to Greenberg's wonderful words. Krznarich clearly reveled in his part as the beefcake-TV-actor Pip who, though he can't match Walker's references to Henrik Ibsen, is more "well adjusted to the world." As he declares, "Being in a good mood is not the same thing as being a moron."

Hickle inhabits her role as Lina, the southern belle who has found herself attached to boy genius Theo's rising star, but gets her metaphorical hem caught on Ned's t-square. Sensual, romantic, railing at Theo about Heidegger being "a famous Nazi" to reminding him to get pepperoni pizza the next, Lina would "smother the day in speech" while Ned, the quiet one, yearns for the life of "the vagabond prince." Their love does not burst forth like fire, but opens gently like a flower after "three days of rain"-Ned's terribly succinct journal entry for perhaps his life's most pivotal moment.  

Ultimately, Greenberg's play is about what we truly know about our parents and even our siblings. As director Caitlin Bouxsein observes in her program notes, we find that what we believe to be the whole truth "is merely a fraction of the reality of things. It's a funny thing to grow up and realize that your parents are actually people with intricate lives outside that of being a parent."

What we think we know about the people to whom we are closest-by blood, or love, or both-may in fact be very different, and watching this lesson unfold on stage could not be more engaging or entertaining.

"Three Days of Rain" runs now through May 16th, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. with Sunday matinees April 26th and May 3rd at 4 p.m at the Mobtown Theater at Meadow Mill, 3600 Clipper Mill Road, Suite 114. Tickets are $15, $12 for students and seniors. Call 410-467-3057 or visit www.mobtownplayers.com


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