Two cops. The gritty city of Chicago. Rain that never seems to stop.
The set up for Ground Zero Theatre and Hit & Myth’s production of A Steady Rain is a narrative you’ve heard before. It starts with a key incident of a bullet speeding through a window. The window belongs to Denny (Brian Jensen), and having his family threatened and hurt drives him to seek the one who held the gun. Right by his side is his partner Joey (Joel Cochrane) who is quickly, by the times that he spends on Denny’s couch, becoming more than part of the family.
Denny and Joey’s stories interject and interrupt each other and blend together, the jagged edges of lies and truths are pieced together to create a narrative. Both cops are not honourable or respectable characters. Denny cheats on his wife Connie, pays visits to a hooker named Ronda on a regular basis and has an affinity for racism and violence. He abuses drugs and sells the ones he takes away from ‘criminals’ . He abuses his authority and his partner, neglects his health, doesn’t give two shakes about the law and uses every excuse under the sun to break it. Joey stands by him because they’ve been best friends for a long time. Long enough that he doesn’t know why he keeps covering for him. He can’t even keep all the lies straight. And when he isn’t on Denny’s couch dealing with his feelings for Connie, he’s trying to control his addiction to alcohol. Or so it seems.
The narrative of this play is what makes it compelling. The audience is told the story through dialogue and the play flows within jerky movement. A lot of the facts don’t add up and it’s hard to tell what are the truths and the lies. It’s a dark, gritty story about two cops that do some pretty ugly and appalling things. At the end of the day, these characters are not likeable, but they are filled in with shades of grey.
It is interesting to note that the playwright Keith Huff is now a writer and co-producer of AMC’s Mad Men. Originally, it showed in a 150 seat theatre and the EPCOR CENTRE’s Motel only seats 50. It makes for an intensive theatre experience. Nick Blais makes great use of the small space with his lighting and set design. The set features four traps of water that add to the story nicely. Great, heavy chairs get moved around to add to the setting and get kicked around for effect. The lighting design gives the play a dark feel and the sound design adds depth to the dialogue on stage.
Both Cochrane and Jensen put forward strong performances. Jensen is quite good, limping around on his sore leg and playing off of Cochrane with ease. He is the stronger actor of the two, but on opening night stumbled on his lines more than was forgivable.
A Steady Rain is an examination of the bonds that keep us together but also at what can tear us apart. It is a gritty crime drama, full of foul language and dark images. But you would expect nothing less from Ground Zero Theatre and Hit and Myth Productions.
A Steady Rain runs until September 29th. Tickets are available online.
(Three and a half stars out of five)
Photo Credit: Benjamin Laird Photography