By Keith Huff
Directed by Russ Tutterow
At Chicago Dramatists, Chicago
A Steady Rain still packs a wallop
Since it was first mounted in 2007 at Chicago Dramatists Theatre, Keith Huff’s mesmerizing and emotionally draining A Steady Rain, a drama about Chicago cops still packs a wallop even after me seeing it for the third time.
This is a “must see” drama will keep you on the edge of your seat as it chills you deep into your bones. Keith Huff as penned a masterpiece . I can’t remember as fine world premiere in many a year. since 2007, A Steady Rain has traveled to roadway with Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig, has played around the world in Paris, Barcelona, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Prague, and in Brazil, Hungary, Greece, Venezuela, Columbia and Argentina. It will open in London in 2012-13. Not bad for Aa local Chicago playwright!
The structure finds two veteran cops sitting at a desk in an old rundown police station. They tell their story in first person narration and we are riveted from their initial exchanges. Huff doesn’t waste a word as he introduces us to these flawed but basically effective street cops.
In my 2007 review, I wrote: “Peter DeFaria is Joey, the bachelor cop, who is the loyal and supportive beat car partner to the commanding and intense Denny, Randy Steinmeyer in a spellbounding turn, the family man and aggressive street cop. The two have been friends since grade school. Realism plays here as the drama reminded me of my days as a blue shirt beat cop with the 18th Chicago Police District (1972-80). Huff comes from a police family and the guy did his research as he captures the street language and style of speech of cops. Director Russ Tutterow has the cops using the pure accent–“dez” and “doz” of Southside Chicago blue collar folks. Many cops do talk that way and use the cop-talk that flows expertly in Huff’s dialogue.
The story involves these two uniform officers as they encounter a routine domestic disturbance call that sends them on a harrowing journey that challenges their friendship, their careers and their families. They will never be the same after these strange events spiral toward a death of a boy. When the horrific truth is revealed, one of the two cops must take the blame for the fatal mistake.
What makes this drama so powerful are the performances of Peter DeFaria and Randy Steinmeyer—both look, sound and feel like flawed humans, not stereotypical TV cops. Huff’s story works because Joey and Denny are empathetic, likable yet repulsive humans with conflicting and contradictory wants and needs. Joey want to do the ‘right thing’ while Denny needs to be in control of the street and his family in a mean and cruel world. Denny rationalizes his actions to quell his inter conflicts. Joey tries to steer Denny away from his cruel street tactics but Denny’s wound-up nature often overcomes his judgment.
When Denny’s family is threatened, he becomes a raging tyrant focused on defending his world. The partner’s irrational actions test their friendship as both men must deal with issues of honor and loyalty in the face of adversity. One’s family values can lead to extreme irrational responses to situations.” It still reaches me even after seeing the show for the third time!
Both actors reach amazing depths of emotions as they get us to feel their pain and torment. The play features mostly first person narrative wherein each tells their version of events. Theses guys leave it all out on the stage as we learn why Denny did brutal things to criminals as his personalities dictate. Huff never alibis but we understand why Denny did such things in the name of law and order. Huff offers a glimpse of all the gray areas, contradictions, and complications that alter a street cop’s view of society. We realize that a cop’s thankless job is indeed influenced by many conflicting motivations. Family, loyalty and a sense of justice and internal personal conflict influence the irrational acts done under stressful situations.
This play is raw, stunning and often poetic as it presents the overwhelming world of the cop on patrol. DeFaria and Steinmeyer are superb. Huff’s script is brilliant. and, after doing the show many times, DeFaria and Steinmeyer now have reached even deeper into the souls of their characters to garner more pathos and angst. The performances are stunning.
Kudos to the newly formed Chicago Commercial Collective for remounting A Steady Rain. The Collective is dedicated to remounting shows that closed too soon. They are badly need here since many a hit show was forced to close too soon. Welcome! Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy should see this show then he’ll want all his supervisors to see it so they can become more aware of rogue cops.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: July 10, 2012
For more info checkout the A Steady Rain page at theatreinchicago.com
At Chicago Dramatist, 1105 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL, tickets $40 -special discount price of $25 for cops, firefighters and other city employees, Wednesday & Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays 7 Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 2 & 7 pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission, through September 3, 2012