A Steady Rain
Huff, from Chicago, knows the territory and he writes of two individuals who are buddies and have been overlooked for promotion. They hope to become detectives and their supervisor does not like them. A significant amount of the performance features monologue but Denny (Aaron Roman Weiner) and Joey (Kyle Fabel) have some personal exchange, too. Denny has a wife and children and Joey has an eye for Connie, to whom Denny is married.
The script references (all unseen) a prostitute, a pimp, a serial killer and a puppy. Since Joey lives alone, Denny often invites his partner to his home for dinner or something like that. Joey drinks quite a bit while the intense Denny has his own issueswhich might involve adultery.
Director Tazewell Thompson and designer Donald Eastman place four chairs toward the rear of this thrust stage and two others closer to the audience. The actors, oftentimes looking forward, drive the dialogue and its impact into the house seats. Huff hooks theatergoers early and certainly provides plenty of conflict.
A Steady Rain presses on with hard-hitting language and a percussive beat but it is not especially rich in dimension. Weiner's performance is near-perfect. Fabel matches him much of the time but stumbled once or twice during a recent matinee. These guys are unhappy, desperate, flawed humans.
This is an unsettling play, one which probes violent circumstances. Huff's writing is clear but not especially richly layered. These guys are tough and so are some of the situations. The ending of the play is absolutely depressing. Perhaps the story is most realistic in its depiction of dissatisfied, despairing city police officers whose lives do not hold great promise.
The actors and director try to make it work but the play is limited. There isn't a whole lot of room for interpretation and development. These men have been friends forever but the relationship now suffers from major fractures. There isn't any room for movement. One does not find the multitude of depth associated with, for example, many of the episodes of television's "The Wire." Then again, that is not Huff's intent.
The plot focuses upon terrible moments as these men attempt to find their way out of the worst of predicaments. We have plenty of turmoil and even shocknot nuance or irony.
A Steady Rain continues at TheaterWorks in Hartford through May 8th. For ticket information, call the box office at (860) 527-7838 or visit www.theaterworkshartford.org.
- Fred Sokol