A Steady Rain is one of the most interesting Broadway shows I’ve ever seen. I was lucky enough to go to the Broadway premiere in September 2009. The play opened with Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman starring in the lead roles of this two-man show – that alone should tell you how great this play was! In fact, it was Daniel Craig’s Broadway debut, but you wouldn’t have known – he was flawless.
A Steady Rain is the story of two Chicago police officers. Joey and Denny are best friends, but this play does not portray them as heroes – both men have their own struggles, and neither is the stereotypical “good guy”. This play covers a large range of real-life scenarios (alcoholism, infidelity, racism, a love triangle and another actor who is short a few certifications of a high school degree) and also ventures into some high-stakes drama near the end – I’d love to tell you more, but I can’t give anything away!
This Broadway show was actually based on real crimes committed by the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. This play definitely isn’t one that you would go to for an optimistic perspective on life, but sometimes more serious theater productions are the ones that stick with you the most. As much as I love a good song and dance routine, I will be unable to forget the drama and intrigue of A Steady Rain for a long time.
I have to confess that my favorite part of the play was the simplicity of it all. The set is minimalist to the extreme – a couple of chairs – and the men are dressed simply. Beyond that, even the concept is minimalist – the two men alternate reports of the same events, providing an interesting look at the different interpretations the two men have. Occasionally other set elements appear to illustrate the cop’s memories, and it provides an excellent dream-like visual enhancement to the dialogue-heavy play. Through this simple set up, you are really able to understand the characters and their motivations. They were as tough as nails yet opened up immensely on stage. That’s really all you can focus on, and I appreciated the chance to get to know these two men.
My date, on the other hand, found the approach lacking. He thought the whole story arc was a bit cliche (I argue that sometimes the best stories are the ones you already know!) and didn’t like the lack of change in each man’s character – while we learned a lot about each character, because they are simply recounting past events, there isn’t any new development.
I was slightly disappointed in the crowd present at the premiere – I consider myself a more serious theater-goer, and was hoping that a similar crowd would be present at the premiere of such a heavy play. Unfortunately, many of the women (and some of the men!) that were there seemed only interested in Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig’s physical appearance! While I can’t blame them for their interest, it did lessen my experience. There are only so many times you can listen to the woman behind you discuss Hugh Jackman’s physique before you start to get a little irritated.
The director of A Steady Rain, Mr Crowley, did a phenomenal job on this production. He utilized the simplicity of the show’s design to really underscore the importance of the two characters on the stage, and highlight the many dimensions of each character. I left the premiere that night with an unsettled feeling – exactly the kind of impression a dark and realistic play such as A Steady Rain should leave on its viewers. Being able to attend this premiere was a highlight of the 2009 Broadway season, and the characters of Joey and Denny have lingered in my mind ever since.