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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Review: Feats of acting drive ‘Three Days of Rain’ in Sturgeon Bay

Critic At Large

Isadoora Theatre Company

Edward DiMaio, left, Carrie Counihan and Dan Sallinen star in “Three Days of Rain” presented by Isadoora Theatre Company. (Company photo)

STURGEON BAY, Wis. (WFRV)

A GPS would be handy to get through the plotting of “Three Days of Rain.”

It is the kind of challenging, probing play that Isadoora Theatre Company favors above any other troupe in our region.

Written by Richard Greenberg, “Three Days of Rain” includes two key theatrical devices. One. Characters introduce themselves to the audience. Each explains him/herself a bit, and then melts into the story action. Two. Players play two roles. In the first act, the three actors portray a sister and a brother and their friend. In the second act, the actors become a parent of each of her/his first-act character.

In Act I, 1995, parental units are discussed from the perspective of their offspring (who tend not to pay full attention to what happened in BCE – Before the Child’s Era). In Act II, 1960, what really happened with the parents is explored.

My takeaway of what Richard Greenberg created: An adventure in theater (versus edification).

Each of the six characters has something of a barbed-wire personality.

This is absorbing to watch, particularly when the performance space is the size of your living room.

Three more performances of “Three Days of Rain” remain to Saturday, Nov. 16, in Inside/Out Theatre in the lower level of Margaret Lockwood Gallery.

Guided by ambitious director Richard C. Carlson, the presentation features super-ambitious players – Carrie Counihan, Dan Sallinen and Edward DiMaio.

The story: Golly gee, something about family dynamics in two generations among the really smart and talented, laced with secrets and code language and a special house with a misunderstood source of creation.

Performances are high level and dense. Each character is complex.

Walker tends to get under one’s skin. Outside the bounds of Manhattan, life is not worthy. Entitlement foregoes need for responsibility. Above all else, privilege. What counts most is my perspective and definitely not your feelings. That’s Walker. There is a great spoken description of him in the play – “exquisite perversity.”

Walker kind of/sort of drives what happens in the story, as would a wedge.

Key elements are a meeting in Act I for the division of property, which includes a house that is revered in topmost architectural circles, and the existence of a parent’s journal that includes a reference to “three days of rain.” The players fill in the rest in detail in well-played demanding performance.

The basics of the players:

Dan Sallinen in Act I is Walker, an abrasive sort; in Act II is Ned, Walker’s father, whose stutter is catalytic in his being.

Carrie Counihan in Act I is Nan, grasping at normalcy that’s out of grasp for her brother, Walker; in Act II is Lina, Nan/Walker’s mother, who is a clever Southern belle searching for completion.

Edward DiMaio in Act I is Pip, acute-minded son of the architectural partner of Ned; in Act II is Theo, Pip’s brilliant yet doubt-ridden father.

The performances breathe determination – so many details and nuance gripped in concentration.

With Isadoora Theatre Company productions, the play’s the thing over backdrops, which tend to be marginal. In “Three Days of Rain,” the location is an apartment seen in two years. The space includes such set pieces as a bed and an architect’s drawing table, with an imagined view of Manhattan, save of a chalk drawing of its skyline. Time changes by way of lighting.

This is a play of the mind – one that massages the intellect.

***

Creative: Playwright – Richard Greenberg; director Richard C. Carlson; production stage manager – Martha Todd; lighting design – Daniel Sallinen Jr.; costumes and props – Martha Todd; set design – Richard C. Carlson, Carrie Counihan, Dan Sallinen; carpentry – Cory Miller; lights and sound – Daniel Sallinen Jr., Marcel Bruyere; stage artwork – Laney Daniels, Daniel Sallinen Jr.; Venetian church photography – Edward DiMaio

Cast:

Act I

Walker – Dan Sallinen

Nan – Carrie Counihan

Pip – Edward DiMaio

Act II

Ned – Dan Sallinen

Lina – Carrie Counihan

Theo – Edward DiMaio

Running time: Two hours, 15 minutes

Remaining performances: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16

Info: isadooratheatrecompany.com

***

THE VENUE: Margaret Lockwood Gallery’s Inside/Out Theatre is located at 7 S. 2nd Ave. in Sturgeon Bay. The space is a variation on black box theater. Some spaces are equipped for that style. This space is adapted to be a theater space. The ceiling is open with a steel beam and ventilation system metalwork. The floor is concrete. The space is in the lower level of the art gallery/studio, with the entrance along a winding sidewalk from the Michigan Street side of the building. The space is a kind of/sort of walk-in basement, though a step beyond that. Adjacent in a hallway are restrooms. For “Three Days of Rain,” a door on a north interior wall leads to an imagined inside of an apartment on the upper level of a building. The hallway doubles as an imagined route to another room in the apartment. The space suits theater that is especially up close and personal.

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