A Steady Rain
A Chick & a Dude Productions keeps this drama of Chicago beat cops challenging and engaging from start to finish
Reviewed by Elizabeth Cobbe, Fri., March 1, 2013
A Steady RainHyde Park Theatre, 511 W. 43rd, 921-4264
Through March 9
Running time: 2 hr.
There is a unique aftereffect of watching Keith Huff's A Steady Rain, brought on by the quality of the writing. After two hours of a live stage performance, the memory of the production from A Chick & A Dude Productions feels sharply cinematic. Huff's mode of storytelling is vivid and inherently visual, despite using only two actors who have more words than action on a minimal set.
The two actors play Denny and Joey, a pair of Chicago beat cops who have been friends since childhood and who can't seem to break into the ranks of detective – in their eyes, because of departmental quotas based on race. Before long, however, it's apparent that the situation is more complex than that. Denny has a history of corrupt behavior, and his dealings in the community are tainted by racism. Loyal to a fault, Joey is held back with him.
And yet the play is also more complex than just a couple of shady policemen in a city known for corruption. Denny is not likeable, but he follows his own strict, if questionable, moral code. He also has a tender sliver in the folds of his angry personality. A textbook bully, he still cares what happens to his partner Joey, and Denny's wife and children are at the core of his pride and identity, despite his dishonesty and violent tendencies. Joey is kind and sensitive, but he is also undeniably weak and slow to take the right action in the face of a wrong one. He is dishonest, too, in his own way.
Denny and Joey take turns telling the story – occasionally interacting with each other, but mostly speaking to the audience. As part of his convoluted notion of right and wrong, Denny hates pimps but takes payoffs from prostitutes, and he runs afoul of one pimp in particular. The conflict between them escalates, ensnaring Joey and Denny's family as Denny's stubbornness drives him to terrible ends.
The strength of A Steady Rain, under the direction of Melissa Livingston-Weaver, is that the story is challenging and engaging from start to finish. Kenneth Wayne Bradley and Tom Green perform their roles ably. A few hitches and hesitations appeared on opening night, but these were small and minor afterthoughts from performances that showed thoughtful and thorough character work. Helped by the script's pacing, the actors present a story scene by scene – not changing scenes in the traditional theatrical sense, but revealing the character-driven, visually intense story with a filmlike structure.
It's also rewarding to see a company that has successfully honed in on its own strengths. Other groups in town will gather the large ensemble cast or construct the daring set for an original musical. Chick & A Dude understands that its forte lies in creating solid productions of smaller yet equally valuable plays. One hopes it will continue to select well-written scripts to suit the actors who work with it.
Robert Faires, Fri., May 17, 2013
Matthew Irwin, Fri., May 17, 2013
Matthew Irwin, Fri., May 10, 2013
Elizabeth Cobbe, Fri., May 10, 2013
Elizabeth Cobbe, Fri., May 3, 2013
Jonelle Seitz, Fri., May 17, 2013
Matthew Irwin, Fri., May 10, 2013
Adam Roberts, Fri., May 3, 2013
Natalie Zeldin, Fri., May 3, 2013
Dan Solomon, Fri., April 26, 2013
O. Henry Pun-Off at O. Henry Museum
Final Cut: Ladies and Gentlemen at Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz
Finding Rail Route Complicated Michael King, in “The Reading Railroad”, while making valuable points, seems to state that finding an initial route for urban ...
Problems Facing Mueller Neighborhood leaders and members past and present of the city of Austin's Robert Mueller Advisory Commission (RMAC) deserve credit for ...
People Are the Real Mueller Story Through various media, we are subjected to stories of Mueller: the construction project. While that can be appreciated, Mueller's true ...
Keeping Austin Weird Things that keep Austin weird: 1) belief that one needs a train to get from UT to the state Capitol; ...
More Women on the Cover, Please How about putting a woman on the cover once in a while? The last eight issues have all featured men ...
- Follow us@AustinChronicle