Friday, October 2, 2009
A Steady Rain
I don’t usually like police dramas, but Hugh Jackman’s performance in A Steady Rain is so magnetic I was drawn in for most of the show’s 90 minutes. He has transformed himself into Denny, a racist Chicago cop who cheats on his wife, physically abuses his young son and shakes down prostitutes on his beat for extra cash. He’s even got a flawless working-class Chicago accent -- not a hint of his usual Aussie speech. I can definitely imagine him picking up his second Tony in June. (His first was for his only other time on Broadway, playing Peter Allen -- becoming Peter Allen -- in the otherwise lackluster musical The Boy from Oz.)
Daniel Craig (in photo, left) costars in this two-character drama by Keith Huff, giving a strong performance as Joey, Denny’s lifelong friend and partner on the police force. He is the easy-going foil to the hotheaded Denny.
Directed by John Crowley, the story unfolds largely through overlapping monologues. The men sit on straight chairs facing the audience, often rising when it is their turn to pace the stage and tell of their personal travails and the violence of their work, in accounts that begin to differ greatly. The lighthearted tone at the start gives way to darkness as more and more of Denny’s story is revealed and the friendship begins to frazzle.
The intensity is enhanced by Scott Pask’s sparse set, which is usually just the men and their chairs, with occasional glimpses of bleak tenement buildings looming large in blurry, somewhat impressionistic eeriness, and by Hugh Vanstone’s lighting, which highlights the speaker while leaving most of the stage a threatening black. Mark Bennett created the effective original music.
A Steady Rain had its professional world premiere in 2007 at Chicago Dramatists and was remounted in February 2008 at Chicago's Royal George Theatre, winning Jefferson Awards for Best New Work and Best Production.
It marks the Broadway debut of Craig, who is popularly known as the latest James Bond. It is also the Broadway debut for Huff, who says he has written about 60 plays, many of which have been produced, but who has supported himself as managing editor of Orthopedic Knowledge Online. A Steady Rain is the first in a trilogy of Chicago cop plays that includes The Detective's Wife and Tell Us of the Night.
A Steady Rain, whose box office sales are already in the multimillions, will play a strictly limited 12-week engagement through Dec. 6. at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 W. 45th St. For more information visit www.asteadyrain.com.