From Mad Men and House of Cards writer Keith Huff the London premiere of the smash-hit Broadway play A STEADY RAIN.
Joey and Denny have been best friends since kindergarten. Joey helps out with Denny’s wife and kids; Denny keeps Joey away from the bottle. Now they’re cops in downtown Chicago, crime is a fact of life. But when a domestic disturbance call takes a turn for the worse, it brings about a change in the weather…
I confess I do like coming back to the Arcola Theatre, I can understand why it is voted as one of the best Off West End theatres. Not to mention they do have a tendency to put on some rather good productions, speaking of which.… A Steady Rain….
On entry into the auditorium both actors are already on stage. There is a raised stage area with a table and two chairs and not much else. Nonetheless the story is told with minimal set with an ease that enables us to imagine anything that is “missing.” The lighting adds to the storytelling ‘spotting’ the actor more prominently when their monologue is happening.
There is also an almost permanent mist to the stage from dry ice. This does help with the scene setting and isn’t over done at any point.
The story is an old faithful, good cop – bad cop, who are lifelong friends and partners on the beat in Chicago. It does deviate slightly in that the good cop, Joey (David Schaal), gets lost ‘in the bottle’ and the bad cop, Denny (Vincent Regan), is there to help him get dry. The first act sets the background story intermingling individual monologues to tell us what has happened historically with present-time dialogue between Denny and Joey. This is done smoothly and flows wonderfully which is not only a credit to the two actors but also to Keith Huff and his writing style. Regan gives Denny the perfect amount of aggression but shows his emotional side with ease, the anger and anguish are almost palpable.
Even though the character leaves a lot to be desired, Regan with Huff’s writing, manages to ensure we still like him and feel his pain. Schaal’s character grows throughout the play and this is delivered with ease showing the initially weaker character trait yet developing strength throughout the second act. Who doesn’t love an underdog and that is what I felt Joey was portrayed as.
Denny is trying to set Joey up with a woman, any woman, but Joey isn’t interested. The real journey starts in the second act when they give a Vietnamese boy back to his “uncle” who turns out to be a cannibal serial killer. This gets both cops suspended and puts a huge strain on their friendship. Denny goes off the rails, beautifully depicted by Regan, while Joey develops an inner-strength.
This is a wonderfully compelling, dark, gritty and slightly disturbing glimpse into the lives of two best friends showing how events can make any life crumble given a chance. It is also very well written and wonderfully acted. If you get the opportunity then do get along to the Arcola and catch a performance.
Review by Lee Cogger
A Steady Rain has its London premiere at Arcola Theatre, starring Vincent Regan (300, Troy, Clash of the Titans) and David Schaal (The Office, The Inbetweeners).
Creative credits: Writer Keith Huff, Director Andrew Pearson, Set Design Ed Ullyart, Sert Construction Ed Ullyart and Jon Claughton, Lighting Designer Simon Bedwell, Costume Designer Edwina Jackson.
A STEADY RAIN by Keith Huff
24 Ashwin Street
Wednesday 10th February to Saturday 5th March
Press night: Wednesday 17 February at 7.30pm
Monday – Saturday evenings at 7:30pm
Saturday matinees at 3:00pm
Suitable for 16+
The production features swearing, violence, sexual scenes, smoking, flashing/strobe lights, haze and loud noises