Off Broadway Reviews
If you have never experienced the sting of betrayal connected with having an affair, you will have a pretty clear idea of how deeply it cuts after viewing the Workshop Theatre's When It Rains. Affairs are a hot topic in the dramatic world, often glamorous and exciting, filled with intrigue and the exhilaration of being caught at any moment. But, as Moira (Emily Zacharias) so succinctly puts it after being discovered, "It's a secret I wanted to take to my grave, not be put there by it."
The love triangle created by New Yorkers Moira, Lenny, and Gideon is not wrought solely out of passion, but basic survival and primitive need. Rahti Gorfien has thrown three people together headlong into the bleak world of the inability to conceive (on the man's part), and the lengths at which couples are willing to go to prolong their DNA. Unlike so many infertility spectacles, When It Rains chooses to delve into the seedier side of what people are able to provide and what others are lacking. Somehow, infertility, infidelity, and turning forty all intermingle to the point of gripping explosion.
As soon as the lights dim on the first scene, the craving for more information on these two people in a deserted Village bar is almost tangible. On her fortieth birthday, Moira has had her Pomeranian put to sleep, found out her husband Lenny (David M. Pincus) is sterile, and met an enticing young writer who has entered her life for reasons more significant than she can even begin to comprehend. Gorfien has crafted a saga with such finely tuned dialogue that it mercifully avoids the predictability of a soap opera and instead keeps the audience always yearning. Even in the midst of the most heart-wrenching moments of pain, unexpected jabs of humor keep the characters grounded. Director Thomas Cote has ensured that Moira not be a villainess, Lenny not a pushover, and Gideon not the ideal man. This affair is neither glamorous nor exciting; it's real.
Dialogue weaves as effortlessly in and out of the character's mouths as their bodies do around Tania G. Bijlani's ultra functional set. Dream sequences come and go with the eroticism and lust necessary to understand what would drive a woman from her devoted husband into the arms of a confused and selfish young man. The ultimate requisite for When It Rains is that the characters remain flawed yet understandable, and thanks to its three main actors (and supporting comic turn from Laksh Singh as the doctor), you never want to dismiss their poor relationship choices. Blayne Perry as Gideon seems so much like every other quiet, creative-type that I wonder if I haven't met him in a bar myself. Even if Gideon cannot always fully grasp the repercussions of his actions, Mr. Perry does an admirable job of skillfully running the gamut from desirable to shameful.
On the other end, Mr. Pincus turns Lenny from a pitiful, dutiful husband humiliated by his lack of sperm into a man consumed by rage and pain when confronted with his wife's betrayal. It's one thing if your wife is having an affair, it's quite another if it's with your new softball buddy and prospective sperm donor. Lenny's longing for a child who can at least share genes that contain his Jewish ancestry nearly consumes him after meeting Gideon, and the unfaithfulness that follows is revealed in an open and raw outburst that finally demonstrates what has been threatening to ignite under Lenny's surface.
It is Emily Zacharias, though, who ties the show together. Her Moira is at once both admirable and despicable, vulnerable and plucky, desperate for love but constantly slapping it away. Problems are not superficial, but deeply embedded within her in a way that only her adulterous antics can soothe. The way in which Ms. Zacharias releases moments of unbridled honesty is shocking. Moira may be committing a horrific marital crime, but as least she knows deep inside that it's something she must do.
When It Rains achieves that unusual level between comedy and drama. Neither genre feels forced, but rather as if one could not exist properly in this piece without the other. Moira, Lenny, and Gideon remained with me long after I left the theatre, and their dalliances and confrontations will surely strike a chord with anyone who's ever hungered for that which is out of reach for a reason.
WorkShop Theater Company