Friday, October 2, 2009

Theater Review: A Steady Rain

Emotional Play Bursts with Thundering Performances from Jackman, Craig
By Lauren Yarger
You might know Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig as their film personas, the Wolverine and James Bond respectively, but in A Steady Rain at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on Broadway, for 90 gripping minutes they are no one else but Denny and Joey, two Chicago cops and longtime buddies who recall a few traumatic days that changed their lives.

The absorption into character, complete with Chicago accents coached by Jess Platt, succeeds in part due to fine stage acting by the film stars, superbly directed by John Crowley, but it’s really Keith Huff’s play with its compelling characters and interestingly different structure that is the star. The action already has taken place and it unfolds in narrative, with the two men telling their parts of the story, sometimes in soliloquy, sometimes re-enacting it together. At times, their memories become so vivid that the tenement buildings or wooded areas they describe come to life behind them on the otherwise stark set (Scott Pask, who also designed the costumes) which offers only two chairs with single light fixtures hovering over them where the “interrogation” of what really happened takes place.

The two boyhood friends became cops together and support each other after being passed up three times for detective. Joey puts up with Danny’s constant physical bullying and racially charged, foul language and in return, Danny and his wife, Connie, and their kids adopt him, offering him a place to stay, some home cooked meals and even some unwanted blind dates. Huff quickly clouds initial thoughts that all is how it appears on the surface, however.

Danny makes extra money to provide for his family by taking bribes and shaking down prostitutes, including Rhonda, with whom he has an ongoing affair. Joey, meanwhile, is in love with Connie. The storm bursts one night when a drive-by shooting critically injures Danny’s son. He obsessively pursues Rhonda’s pimp, whom he believes is responsible. His judgment becomes clouded and he and Joey end up handing a victim over to his killer. Soon, it’s not clear who the biggest threat to this family is: the pimp who vows revenge, the out-of-control father trying to protect his child or the mild-mannered wife stealer who rats out his partner.

The dialogue is riveting and makes for as exciting a police drama you’ll see on stage. Crowley expertly places the men close together when their stories jibe, and further apart when they differ. They also act in synchronization many times, as partners, and as opposite sides of the dichotomy they become.

Steady seems to be doing steady business at the box office, which will be good news for the 007 film producers who are among the production’s Broadway backers. As good as the actors are, they can’t help but resume their movie star status after the show, however, when long lines of people, many of them women lamenting the fact that the play doesn’t offer a scene with either of the well-built actors removing a shirt, line up at the stage door in hopes of snapping a photo.

A Steady Rain plays at the Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 W. 45th Street, NYC through Dec. 6. For tickets call (212) 239-6200 or (800) 432-7250.

Christians might also like to know:
• Very strong language throughout
• Sexual dialogue
• God’s name taken in vain

1 comment:

Cliff Thompson said...

Good news that this play is so good. Wish it would extend to mid-Jan when my group will be in town, but alas, other obligations will no doubt trump an extended run.

Thanks for the thoughtful review.

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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