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Southern Florida by John Lariviere


A Steady Rain

Also see John's reviews of The Pitmen Painters and
Donna McKechnie's My Musical Comedy Life

A Steady Rain
Gregg Weiner and Todd Allen Durkin
The GableStage at the Biltmore presents the Southeastern premiere of A Steady Rain by Keith Huff. Following readings in New York City and Los Angeles, A Steady Rain was originally staged by Chicago Dramatists in 2007, and won the Joseph Jefferson Awards for Best New Work and Best Production. It opened on Broadway at the Schoenfeld Theatre on September 10, 2009, for a limited 12 week engagement, closing on December 2, 2009.

This hard-hitting, gritty drama is the story of two fellow Chicago policeman and life-long friends Joey (Todd Allen Durkin) and Denny (Gregg Weiner). The two men share both personal and professional history and secrets. Denny (a cop on the take) and his wife have helped Joey with his alcoholism and attempts at finding a girlfriend. In return Joey has turned a blind eye to Denny's infidelity at the same time he has struggled with the shame of being in love with Denny's wife. This is the basis of the compelling relationship of the two men prior to all that is about to unfold in this 90-minute, one-act play.

The two Chicago policemen become involved in a situation similar to the real-life events involving Jeffrey Dahmer in Milwaukee. They are called to a neighborhood disturbance in which a nude, 14-year-old Vietnamese boy is found babbling incoherently in public. They turn the boy over to a seemingly trustworthy man who claims to be the boy's uncle. They later find out that the "uncle" is a cannibalistic serial killer, and the Vietnamese boy his next victim. As it becomes clear that someone must bear responsibility for their egregious failure to assess the situation accurately, their careers are at stake. When Denny's son is injured in a home vandalism that appears to be retribution for his involvement in handling a pimp, he is hot for retaliation at any cost. His anger leads to some incredibly rash choices that escalate the situation toward its tragic ending.

Gregg Weiner is Denny, the more dominant of the two men. It is clear that, in his vision of being in control and taking care of things, he circumvents expected procedures. He excuses his own choices as either doing what needs to be done or simply a minor character flaw other people need to get over. Todd Allen Durkin is his milder mannered, self-conscious friend Joey. His conflicts are within himself while Denny's are with the world at large. The two actors handle the huge amount of dialogue (and monologues) masterfully. They command attention, never drop pacing, and work off of each other beautifully. As actors they show great focus that allows one to forget that they are not really these characters. The only minor flaw in their performances is that their accents sometimes wander from Chicago to Brooklyn.

The heavy nature of the play may not be for everyone. There are no moments of humor except for the occasional jocular mannerism and off-color language, so the 90-minute drama can wear you down a bit. The scenic design both maximizes the space and serves the action well. One may be struck by how well this play would translate into a movie with all the characters mentioned being fleshed out. Not surprisingly it is rumored that Steven Spielberg is interested in directing a film version of the play. If so, put it down on your must see list. In the meantime, come and see this production of A Steady Rain at the GableStage.

A Steady Rain will be appearing at The GableStage through April 1, 2012. The GableStage is located in the eastern section of the Biltmore Hotel, at 1200 Anastasia Avenue, in Coral Gables, Florida. Valet parking is available, or free parking is available in the Biltmore parking area west of the hotel. Performances are 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday. For tickets and information you may reach them at 305-445-1119 or online at www.GablesStage.org.

The GableStage, formerly known as the Florida Shakespeare Theatre, is a professional theatre presenting classic and contemporary theatre year round. They are members of the Theatre League of South Florida, the Florida Cultural Alliance, the Theatre Communications Group, SouthFloridaTheatre.com and the Dade Cultural Alliance. The GableStage hires local and non-local Equity and non-union actors and actresses, and is involved with the educational community in promoting educational theatre programs.

Cast:
Joey: Todd Allen Durkin*
Denny: Gregg Weiner*

Crew:
Director: Joseph Adler
Scenic Design: Lyle Baskin
Lighting Design: Jeff Quinn
Sound Design: Matt Corey
Costume Design: Ellis Tillman
Stage Manager: Kristen Pieski*

*Indicates a member of Actors' Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States.


Photo: George Schiavone


See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere



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