Santa Cruz Good Times

Oct 08th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Storm System

ae ThreeDaysofRainComplex family mysteries saturate JTC's 'Three Days of Rain'

Evidently we have the Jewel Theatre Company to thank for the much-needed downpour recently. There must have been some sympathetic juju involved in JTC opening a play called “Three Days of Rain” just when Santa Cruz needed it most! The phrase in the title, besides being at the top of everyone's weather wish-list for the past few months, turns out to have special significance within the context of the play itself, a generational drama about family, secrets, and destiny.

As the action plays out in two different time periods, the simple phrase “three days of rain” becomes emblematic of the way the generations are fated to misinterpret and misunderstand each other. The phrase that one character dismisses as "a weather report," turns out to have much deeper, even life-changing significance for another.

Written by contemporary playwright Richard Greenberg and first produced in 1997, the Pulitzer-nominated “Three Days of Rain” grapples with the impact of parents on their offspring, intentional or otherwise, and the many ways that future plans for one's children can go awry. What's interesting is that the play begins in the present day, with adult children coping, literally and metaphorically, with the legacy of the past. It's not until Act Two, when the action shifts backward in time 30 years, that we begin to piece together the real story that the children will never completely understand. Along the way, Greenberg spins his yarn with plenty of tart observations and wisecracks, handled with typical aplomb by JTC's excellent three-person cast.

The play begins with a prickly reunion between siblings. The aptly named Walker (Stephen Muterspaugh), a wanderer living out of a backpack with a habit of running away from life's difficulties, has fetched up in a shabby New York City apartment. He and his sister, Nan (Julie James), the practical one, with a stable family of her own, are about to find out what they've inherited from the estate of their late father, a famous architect—along with Pip (Aaron Walker), a soap opera actor and son of their father's business partner, who has a complicated history with both siblings.

Briskly staged by director Bill Peters, their three-way dynamic is waspish and funny, but full of yearning. While the angsty sibs face memories of their silent father and crazy mother, the happy-go-lucky Pip admits how he always tried—but failed—to feel as bad as his friends because he "didn't want to be left out." ("It's like he's some weird, other ‘nice’ species," says the exasperated Walker.)

In the Act Two flashback, roles are reversed in many ways. Aaron Walker plays easygoing Pip's manipulative father, Theo, and James tackles the sibling's Southern belle mother, Lina (warm and vulnerable, but certainly not yet mad). But most impressive is Muterspaugh in two highly distinct and opposite roles, as amped-up Walker, and his shy, conventional, surprisingly stalwart architect father, Ned. We learn the reason for the "silence" Ned's children mistook for disapproval, and, in a touching moment, it's revealed how the carefree life Ned wished for himself and so ardently tried to confer on his son has instead turned into Walker's unhappy rootlessness. All these characters are compelling, and it's more a fault of the play than the actors that their story seems to end so abruptly.           

As always, JTC makes inventive use of its limited stage space. Set designer Nicole Braucher's rotating set not only provides different views of the same location as needed, but makes it possible to create blackouts between scenes. However, it's confusing that the interior is meant to be a downtown city apartment, complete with traffic noise and flashing neon lights outside, while the exterior appears to be a suburban house where characters can walk up to the window at street level and talk to someone inside.

Still, the plain white exterior is useful for some ingenious effects. Kudos to lighting designer Mark Hopkins and projection designer Davis Banta for a terrific rainfall interlude that is best experienced to be appreciated. In another lyrical moment, the suggestion of architectural plans blithely begin to draw themselves across the page-like surface as creativity ignites inside. These are the kinds of clever touches we have come to expect from JTC, the little theater company with big, bold ideas. 

‘Three Days of Rain’ plays Thursdays-Sundays, now through March 16 at Center Stage, 1001 Center St., Santa Cruz. For tickets, call 425-7506, or visit
Photo: Steve DiBartolomeo

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Hot in Here

This ain’t no Burning Man—the MAH’s GLOW festival flames on


Mercury Direct in Libra, Columbus Day, Libra New Moon

Mercury completes its retrograde Friday, poised stationary direct Friday evening at zero degrees Libra. Mercury begins its journey through Libra once again, completing its retrograde shadow Oct. 12. Things should be a bit less complicated by then. Daily life works better, plans move forward, large purchases can be made, and communication eases. Everything on hold during the retrograde is slowly released. Since we eliminated all thoughts and ideas no longer needed (the purpose of Mercury’s retrograde) during the retrograde, we can now gather new information—until the next retrograde occurs on Jan. 5, 2016 (1.3 degrees Aquarius), retrograding back to 15 degrees Capricorn on Jan. 25. It’s good to know beforehand when Mercury will retrograde next—Jan. 5, the day before Epiphany. On Monday is Columbus Day, when the sailor from Genoa arrived in the new lands (Americas), Oct. 12, 1492. This discovery by Columbus was the first encounter of Europeans with Native Americans. Other names for this day are “Discovery Day, Day of the Americas, Cultural Diversity Day, Indigenous People’s Day, and Dia de la Raza.” Italian communities especially celebrate this day. Oct. 12 is also Thanksgiving Day in Canada. Monday is also the (19 degrees) Libra new moon festival. Libra’s keynote while building the personality is, “Let choice be made.” Libra is the sign of making life choices. Often under great tension of opposing forces seeking harmony and balance. There is a battle between our lower (personality) and higher selves (soul). We are tested and called to cultivate right judgment and love. When we align with the will-to-good, right choice, then right judgment and love/wisdom come forth. Our tasks in Libra. 


The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program


Film, Times & Events: Week of October 9

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


Seoul Food

Santa Cruz’s new Sesame Korean is a great introduction to an ancient culinary tradition


Is there evil in the world?

Yes, some people don’t think right because they have been treated badly. Milo Robbins, Scotts Valley, Second Grade


Dos Aguilas Olive Oil

Aptos company is letting locals pick their own olives in October


What’s your biggest pet peeve?

When people say they’re “going down” somewhere, and they’re actually traveling north. Julia Ragen, Santa Cruz, Psychologist