James McAvoy - "Three Days of Rain"
Going to London, watching the play and meeting James – what an event! It’s something I won’t forget, as long as I live.
I arrived on Monday, for a whole week in London. I was so excited! I had been to London about 15 years ago, and only for 3 days, so I had a lot of activities planned already – a tour through the city, lots of museums and two concerts booked at the Barbican. And I would also meet an old friend, whom I haven't seen in years, since she moved to Europe. But the main reason I was going to London was to watch “Three Days of Rain”. And hoping for a chance to meet James.
As soon as I arrived, I went to the Apollo to see if they still had nice seats available. First the girl said they had a very good seat, E-something, but then I asked her for one that would be even closer to the stage, and that’s how I got row A.
When he entered the stage, I was so nervous…it was dark and I was certain that it was the understudy, he looked different from the James I imagined. He began talking, and I was still under the impression it wasn’t him. I think my brain still had a hard time accepting that yes, I was in London and yes, it was James McAvoy right in front of me!
I loved the way James played Walker; loved his energy, his presence, the way he kept moving and talking, more like rambling. How he completely owned the stage. I loved the way his cut out jeans kept falling a bit below the navel, revealing the white calvin klein. I loved that his belly kept showing when he raised his arms, and that we could see spit flowing freely when he literally spitted “sports?!” to Pip. The tears forming in his eyes when he finds out about Pip and Nan. The ritual of burning the journal, the way he looked übber sexy just standing there, looking at the flames. He completely mesmerized me from the moment he entered the darkned stage, carrying the flashlight as he spoke Walker's first lines:
"Meanwhile, back in the city...two nights of insomnia...in this room, in the dark...listening...soaking up the Stravinsky of it...no end to the sounds in a city...something happens somewhere, makes a noise, the noise travels, charts the distance: The Story of a Moment.
God, I need to sleep!
Yes. All right. Begin!"
The three actors had a great interaction, and I really enjoyed Nigel Harman as Pip, how he was such a complete opposite of Walker: optimist, all sweetness and light and empathic goodness, and a bit of an oblivious idiot. Nigel's, and his and James' scenes together generated some of the biggest laughs in the first act, especially when Pip goes on and on about Walker being "in so much pain" and his own theory on Oedipus ("Do the Fucking Math!"). Lyndsey Marshal was good too, as the worried, motherly older sister. Nan was nice and bland, but still made us care about her and her long-suffering worries with her nearly crazy, strayed younger brother.
Some reviewers, when talking about Walker, said the character was too loud and annoying, and that James overacted while playing him. All I saw was a wonderful performance; after all, Walker was supposed to be over the top all the way, and James nailed the young man's manic-depressive, bipolar, suffering, dark, obnoxious, intellectual-chic but still somehow likable persona. One of the new things he brought to the character, nearly at the end of the run, was a stutter, when Walker was speaking too fast or was too nervous/excited. It was great; it made sense to see Walker running with the words and stuttering because of it, since he was so prolix and talked so fast and had so many things and ideas and feelings inside his head that he wanted to translate into words. And it made for a great connection with his father Ned, as we would see in the second act.
I enjoyed Walker so much I wished the play would be all about him - or at least, that there would be a play only about him. Three Days of Wind? ;-)
But of course, I was still excited for Act 2, and to meet Ned, Walker's shy, silent and talented father. James' performance as Ned won the most enthusiastic accolades, maybe because of the flawless stutter performed on stage, maybe because he was the kind of character who had an immense inner life of feelings and emotions that he struggled to keep inside because of the difficulties of expressing them with spoken (and even written, as we could see by the laconic entries in his journal) words, the kind of damaged character that makes James excels as an actor, that allowed him to perform silently, using his face and body language to communicate with the audience. But first, intermission, and the chance to check the beauty of the old and lovely Apollo Theatre. It reminded me of a smaller Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro; it was a pity the audience couldn't take pictures inside the Apollo, but some managed to... ;-)
During the final moments of the intermission I knew that James would be wandering through the stage, making coffee, drawing, oblivious to the chatter of those returning to their seats. I just sat there and watched him, feeling that it was such a privilege to be there, seeing my favorite actor, probably the best actor in the world right now (to me, the best) just being totally in character, inside Ned's own private and silent world, acting subtly, when he wasn't even supposed to be there.
I have to say that James looked gorgeous as Ned. The period outfit, and the nicely combed hair fitted him so well; he always looks great when playing characters like Robbie and Ned, because there's something classical, old-school-acting about James, as if he belonged to another era.
James was briliant as Ned, but I already thought he had been brilliant as Walker. The two characters couldn't be more different, and yet, so alike. They were both lonely, intelligent, and struggled to express themselves and to be understood - Ned and his silence, caused mostly because of a stutter that mortified him, and Walker with his excess of words. But I understand why Ned was more loved, im general. He's the kind of character who makes our heart ache for him, we want to cuddle him and take him home. There were so many great Ned moments, as many as there have been Walker's - the first time he spoke, stuttetering (it sounded so natural, it was as if someone like Ned wouldn't utter words any other way); when he was talking to Lena about the "intentions, and what actually happens", how his eyes brighten with tears and how intensely he looks at Lena when she says how much greatness he'll achieve; the passion with which Ned holds Lina (James' natural sexuality is one of the most endearing things about him), the emotional confrontantion with Theo; when he's talking about keeping a journal, not a diary, because "I'm a boy!" (biggest laugh of the evening, he looked so cute when he said it!). And this:
"I'm always w-watching you...whenever you're here...I can't help it. (...) It's awful. I don't want it...I d-don't expect to have things...like other people, but I'm always...th-thinking of you.
I kn-know nothing can come of it...I know. I can't stop it, though. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry..."
I also have to mention that James/Ned looked absolutely gorgeous wearing a white t-shirt and white boxers, while making out with Lina on the matress. It was such a hot moment. And when he just stood there, in the artificial rain, getting soaked...only this time he had pajama pants over the boxers! ;-)
I thought that Lyndsey as Lina was great, but Nigel as Theo was like Pip with less humour. Maybe it made sense, though, because Theo was someone with such a boring inner life, and his son Pip would follow the same path of his father, only being funny and sympathetic while being an idiot (Theo just seemed to be and acted like an idiot). Also, after the confrontation with Ned, Theo didn't have much to do except stand there in the rain getting wet. The second act was all about Ned...and good for us, who are all about James! :-)
I loved "Three Days of Rain"; James of course was the main draw for me, but it was great seeing him acting in such an intelligent, well-built play, and Nigel Harman and Lyndsey Marshal are such good actors too. Everything was beautiful and nicely put together: the apartment scenery, the music, lightning, clothes, the rain effect. Plus the Apollo Theatre was the ideal place for the play, not too big and with an intimate atmosphere, something that made us feel closer to the actors and to be absorbed into the story.
It was a wonderful opportunity to see what a versatile actor James is, and how commited he is to the roles he plays. He makes me proud to be a fan.
"I don't waste words. I can't...afford to."