When Keith Huff’s A Steady Rain opened on Broadway two seasons ago, the production featured two movie star hunks – Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig – as Chicago cops whose lifelong friendship is being torn to shreds. The buzz then was not so much about the play but about its leading men, who raised a record-setting $1.5 million-plus for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS by auctioning off the t-shirts they wore in the show.
Now GableStage has opened its own production of A Steady Rain, and thanks to the exquisitely detailed performances of Gregg Weiner and Todd Allen Durkin as those cops, the play gets the focus this time around.
Weiner and Durkin, Carbonell Award-winning actors who have recurring roles in the upcoming Starz series Magic City, persuasively disappear into their roles. Artfully guided by director Joseph Adler, the veteran South Florida actors are completely believable as guys who have been pals since kindergarten (or, as they render the word in Chicago-speak, “kinnygarden”).
Weiner’s Italian-American Denny is the guy who has it all: the house, the wife, the kids, the dog. Durkin’s Irish-American Joey doesn’t have much beyond his job, unless you count a chronic drinking problem. But control-freak Denny keeps trying with Joey, having him over for dinner most nights, fixing him up, attempting to help his low-key buddy find his own version of the American dream.
But for Huff, who won Chicago’s best new work Joseph Jefferson Award for A Steady Rain, that introductory portrait of longtime partners and pals simply establishes who they used to be, who they seemed to be. A Steady Rain is a memory play in which the guys take turn sharing their version of events with the audience. They talk, squabble, laugh and fight with each other. But the revelations come in their monologues.
The constant rain, beginning not long after the play does and lasting right through to its tragic ending, is a metaphor. It symbolizes the gloom and rot that will soon alter both men’s lives. For Denny, hubris is the killer. For Joey, it’s covetous envy.
Terrible things happen over the 85 minutes of A Steady Rain. Punctuated by the chilling pop of gunfire, those awful incidents are word pictures painted by two masterful actors.
Weiner takes Denny from cockiness to guilt-laced desire to the darkest of places. Durkin’s deceptively restrained, nervous Joey becomes a man capable of all sorts of betrayal. Both of these fine actors use their faces, their expressive silences and their interpretive skills to create moments so powerful that you get lost in their world of shock, violence and sorrow. They know how to take a good play and make it mesmerizing, and they’re the reason to see A Steady Rain.