A Steady Rain, which opened last night at GableStage, is ostensibly a play about two life-long friends whose lives are irrevocably changed through a bad chain of events. But it can also be described as an anatomy of a fucked up cop.
Written by Keith Huff, A Steady Rain is rife with melodrama, driven by dual narratives told entirely through monologues by the two characters. Its mostly middling script is, however, brought to life through terrific performances from Todd Allen Durkin and Gregg Weiner, two GableStage veterans dripping with intensity.
The 90-minute play tells the tale of Joey (Durkin) and Denny (Weiner), two Chicago cops who've known each other since "kinnygarden" and who find their friendship strained when Denny's home is shot up by a pimp he's been hunting down for years, and the ensuing downward-spiral crapstorm that come from the attack.
Denny seeks out vengeance any way he can. Joey, Denny's recovering alcoholic milquetoast pal, tries to stand by his buddy while overlooking his many flaws. Chief among them: Denny is having an on-going affair with one of the pimp's hookers, and he's not above using violence and intimidation on the job, nor skimming a piece of the action on drug busts. All the while, Joey is in love with Denny's wife -- who is well aware of her husband's philandering.
Everything comes to a boiling point when the two cops inadvertently hand a frightened Vietnamese boy over to a cannibalistic serial killer who claims to be the kid's uncle during a routine domestic violence call.
The play's plot is a blend of unresolved tensions and shit-hitting-the-fan outcome, where lives and friendship and marriage and career are all in a state of disrepair. The story weaves through each character's telling of their side of things, while a rainstorm falls on the city for days on end.
At times, A Steady Rain feels like a classic noir tale of good-cops-gone-rotten in the Windy City. At others, it takes a Breaking Bad-like turn with shock value and plot twists. It might work as a major motion picture (which Huff is currently working on), but as a stage-play it has limitations, most notably -- its format. The character narrations paint a picture of a harrowing story. But that's essentially all you get. The rest is left to the audience's mind's-eye. Huff's imagination, it would seem, is the play's biggest flaw.
But if A Steady Rain is to be seen, it's to catch Durkin and Weiner's blistering performances.
The two actors play off each other masterfully, lending a kind of paradoxical view of deeply flawed men caught up in dark, somber crises. Durkin's sullen and subdued performance reveals Joey as a weak, timid man stunted by fear at every part of his life, but finding an inner strength through his own moral compass. The always-excellent Weiner, last seen at GableStage in his Carbonell nominated performance in Red, and who is at his best when he's a blustering foul-mouthed cynic, is savage in his delivery as the deeply troubled Denny.
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A Steady Rain is an ultimately flawed play about two men dancing on the edges of consequence. But its fantastic performances make it worth checking out.
Look for our extended review in this week's issue.
A Steady Rain at GableStage at the Biltmore (1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables) runs through April 1. Tickets are $47.50-$50. Call 305-445-1119 or visit gablestage.org.