Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Steady Rain

"A Steady Rain" at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, November 12, 2009

Wolverine meets James Bond onstage in Keith Huff's two-hander, A Steady Rain. Interweaving two monologues of a pair of police partners, Messrs. Jackman and Craig don Chicago-style accents with mixed results in this intermissionless event.

Mr. Huff's tale of friendship, betrayal, corruption and devotion provides great opportunities for these two talented men to flex some emotional muscles. If only there were more of a play here, rather than 80 minutes of "... then I said..." This technique undercuts the bond that each character describes having with the other. The good-cop/bad-cop dynamic is one they've played out since childhood that forces its easily anticipated final blow. Toss in a drive-by shooting, a hooker, her pimp and his little brother, hush money, and a Jeffrey Dahmer type and it's time for the undershirt auction fundraiser for Broadway Cares.

Mr. Jackman is the bad cop, Denny, married with kids, and a fatal attraction to lost causes. He drags Joey along with him every sordid step of the way, setting him up with a hooker he hopes to raise out of her downward spiral. He's got the dark, fiery Italian thing down pretty well (though his accent occasionally escapes Chicago).

Meanwhile, Mr. Craig's Joey, fighting alcohol and a crush on Denny's wife doesn't have the willpower to pull himself away. His despair is palpable as he continues to let Denny pummel him emotionally and physically. When Denny finally hits bottom, Mr. Craig creates credibility despite the weak writing.

Director John Crowley handles the proceedings nicely, smoothing through the awkward transitions. Scott Pask's sets introduce impressive, if unnecessary, cinematic effects bleeding through the back scrim.

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