Review: A STEADY RAIN Dazzles from Dirt Dogs Theatre Co.

Running at the MATCH THEATER COMPLEX through March 27th

By: Feb. 21, 2022

Review: A STEADY RAIN Dazzles from Dirt Dogs Theatre Co. A STEADY RAIN is a production that reveals the very DNA of Dirt Dogs Theatre Company. It was the first show they mounted back in 2016, and right now it exists as a revival at the MATCH complex through March 5th. It's an amazing testament to the power of live theater, a show consisting of only two men that mines the moral underbelly of being a white cop in modern America. It oozes toxic masculinity, racism, profanity, misogyny, and violence. And yet, it is one of the most beautifully performed operatic shows you will see this year on any stage in Houston. This is how you electrify an audience with barely any set, a pair of brave actors, a musical genius, whipsmart lighting, and a deft directorial hand from the company's leading lady.

The script written by Keith Huff debuted in Chicago in 2007, and managed to wrangle a morality fable from a real incident involving serial killer cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer. The show went on to an incredibly profitable Broadway run starring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig. The playwright used a situation where two cops unknowingly returned a Vietnamese boy to a murderer who claimed to be the child's uncle. This serves as a tipping point where best friends Joey and Denny must confront what happens when their loyalties are tested when someone has to take the blame.

Kevin Daugherty stars as Denny, an alpha male cop who takes bribes on the sly from prostitutes and other criminals as part of his job. He's a bully who has no sense of how to be politically correct or follow any protocol. He's relentless, tough, and has managed to cobble together a nice family life with a wife and kids. Trevor B. Cone is his partner Joey, the more efficient but less of a bruiser than Denny. He's better at rules, but loves Denny enough not to enforce them too harshly on him. He struggles with alcoholism, and remains single living in a one room apartment somewhere on the seedier side of Chicago.

Throughout the evening these men bounce back and forth telling their tale of things going wrong, and describing the spiral they seem to be stuck in. Ironically often their stories diverge, and we learn that truth and memory are often self-serving or part of survival. Daugherty and Cone play off each other effortlessly, and by the time we get to the histrionic explosion of a climax they have exhausted themselves and the audience. These are fully realized pitch perfect portrayals, and the two offer a master class in acting. Certainly audiences are going to have a difficult time finding better performances than the two offered here.

The piece is skillfully directed by Malinda L. Beckham, and she stages a beautifully blocked and balanced work that utilizes space and emotion. The set is confined to simply some steel chairs and two desks which move around as needed for emphasis. Lighting from John Baker is wonderfully inventive, bouncing around the black box with the same energy as the script. The original score from musician Hescher is breathtaking, and becomes the third cast member with much to say eloquently and brilliantly. Jon Harvey's constant wall of sound effects creates a menace to a rain-soaked Chicago that feels all too real. Technically A STEADY RAIN offers as many thrills as it does acting-wise. Rarely do you get to see a marriage so perfectly of production values coupled with raw acting talent.

If I sound like a fanboy of this staging, it is because I am. This is exciting stuff, and I would encourage anybody who is a fan of local theater to support this one. It displays why Houston needs companies like Dirt Dogs to produce shows that our more staid and traditional "better funded" houses will avoid. It's a chance to sit in an intimate space with artists who excel at telling a story you will never see in a large opera house or performance hall. A STEADY RAIN is tough, profane, and full of over-the-top masculinity, and yet it feels as progressive as it can be. It asks tough questions, and it makes you uncomfortable with its answers. It does what great theater truly should do, challenges its audience. Maybe it takes a female director to take on the worst of mankind.

A STEADY RAIN runs at THE MATCH theater complex located at 3400 Main Street. Tickets can be purchased at . More about Dirt Dogs Theatre Company can be found at . COVID protocols for this production indicate that audience members should wear a mask inside the auditorium throughout the performance. The show runs approximately two hours with a 15 minute intermission between acts.

Photo provided by Gary Griffin


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From This Author - Brett Cullum

Brett Cullum has been part of the Houston and Memphis Theatre scenes for several decades now. He's been seen on community theatre and professional stages in several cities including Playhouse 1960... Brett Cullum">(read more about this author)


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