How far does friendship go? What is family? Can people really change? These questions are at the core of Keith Huffs gripping drama, A Steady Rain, in which two flawed Chicago cops relate a harrowing tale that alters both lives forever. Newly formed Honest Pint Theatre Company makes a huge impression with this debut effort.
Denny and Joey are life-long best friends who joined the police force together. Theyve had their share of reprimands but theyve always covered for each others failings and weaknesses. Denny helped Joey recover from alcoholism and keeps trying to set him up with women. Joey looks the other way when Denny shakes down pimps and drug dealers for extra cash to feed his wife and kids.
Everything changes one night when a bullet shatters Dennys front window, critically injuring his son, payback for one of Dennys aggressive shakedowns. Denny goes on a rampage to find the perpetrator, unleashing his pent up racial hatred, anger at lack of promotions and guilt over his sexual relations with prostitutes on his beat. Joeys loyalty is tested as he watches Denny flout police procedure and by his own uncontrollable desire for Dennys wife.
The plot points in Huffs script are typical police drama fodder but the way they are presented makes all the difference. The structure is a mix of monologues and interactions, sometimes with one character telling the story while the other watches, sometimes with both interjecting comments and contradictions.
Miyuki Sus set design is a suitably claustrophobic interrogation room, with two-way mirrors across the back, her shadowy lighting design enhancing the oppressive atmosphere.
Within these confines, Ryan Brock and David Henderson hurtle toward a searing climax that should leave no viewer unmoved. Brock plays Dennys angry tirades and self-deluded justifications with frightening intensity, his bravado hiding a broken spirit that cant be healed. Henderson fills Joey with moving self-doubt, kind-hearted love and admirable determination to make things right. Both play off each other with palpable chemistry.
Director C. Glen Matthews orchestrates the 90-minute one-act to build tension and suspense with no letup, forcing the viewer to watch as the inevitable tragedy ensues.
This fine production serves as a perfect example of live theaters spellbinding power and emotional thrust.