BWW Reviews: Rep's Harrowing and Intense Production of A STEADY RAIN

By: Jan. 24, 2012
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It's easy to see some of the elements of A Steady Rain that playwright Keith Huff owes a debt to. There are certainly enough police procedural shows on television that reference enough of same plot points to breed a certain familiarity to the material, including a crucial bit concerning a Dahmer-like serial killer. But there's something more going on here that deserves your attention. Powered by two spectacular performances and crisp, incisive direction, A Steady Rain is an emotionally charged storm that never lets up, and you'll find yourself completely enraptured by the Repertory of St. Louis's current studio theatre production.

Denny and Joey are beat cops who both aspire to make detective, but are running up against a quota system and their own failure to follow police procedures. Denny is on the take, and has cooked up enough schemes to make money on the side that there's no doubt his reputation precedes him. Joey is the softer of the two, and has cleaned up his own act with Denny's surprising help, as he pulls himself out of the bottom of a bottle. These guys are more than partners, though, they grew up together in Chicago and have a considerable history together. But, as Denny's life and marriage begin to spiral out of control you can almost see them switch places.

Joey Collins gives a powerhouse performance as Denny, full of enough bluster and political incorrectness to give anyone pause, but saddled with a soft heart that finds him trying to do good, even if he goes about it in a bad way. Collins is balanced by the more restrained, but equally strong work of Michael James Reed as Joey. Sure, he's a more “by the book” kind of guy, but you can feel his hurt deeply as he realizes that the only way to save his partner from himself is to betray him. Both play off one another and deliver monologues that explore the mood of what was going on at the time. It's never a distraction, and actually acts to get us more involved in their individual characterizations.

Steven Woolf's direction hits the mark squarely. There's nothing phony feeling here, only the desperation of two men who are charged with serving and protecting the public, and find themselves in a compromising position. Robert Mark Morgan's scenic design brings out the grunge of a police interrogation room with simplistic, but artful ease. It features a cool backdrop, which appears when the pair are on duty, that acts to fill in our imagination with the same sense of stylistic grace. Peter Sargent's lighting also adds the foreboding mood of this 90 minute piece. Dorothy Marshall Englis provides costumes that delineate the two men in subtle fashion. Rusty Wandall's sound design provides appropriate music and the sound of the steady rain of the title.

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis continues to provide high quality entertainment that's compelling and fully engaging. A Steady Rain is a modern classic in my book and continues through February 5, 2012 in the Studio Theatre of the Loretto-Hilton. See it and be blown away.




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