Keith Huff's near masterpiece play A Steady Rain has returned to its city of origin after leaving its birthright for a little gig on Broadway. As any maturing child, A Steady Rain felt the growing pains of the commercial theater throngs causing its original Chicago stars Peter Defaria and Randy Steinmeyer to be replaced by Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig to great box office success but limited critical appeal. I have now witnessed each incarnation of A Steady Rain (there have been four, the original production at Chicago Dramatists, a commercial transfer to the Royal George Theatre (via producer Frank Gero), Broadway and now again at Dramatists and it still carries quite the emotional wallop.
The return of A Steady Rain is thanks to the efforts of a new Chicago production company the Chicago Commercial Collective (Brian Loevner, Aurelia Fisher and Monty Cole) whose mission is to remount productions that, in their opinion, closed to soon. A Steady Rain is their first endeavor and was the obvious choice for many reasons.
For those who have not seen or heard about Mr. Huff's psycho-drama, A Steady Rain follows two Chicago police officers, Joey (Mr. DeFaria) and Denny (Mr. Steinmeyer), who were childhood best friends and for many years now, partners on the force. Both have been passed over for promotions to the detective division at the department. As the play unveils itself, we see why. The stress and self destructive nature of Denny and Joey's personalities begin to float to the surface and the consequences of their actions, both professionally and personally, affect each other in the most profound ways.
As mentioned, the original cast is back, as is one of Chicago's finest directors Russ Tutterow and the initial creative team. The good news is, for those who have not seen the original production, run, don't walk to see what great story telling, directing and acting is. When it premiered, A Steady Rain was a definite game changer and those newbie's that attend this production will certainly understand why the critics raved.
The downside is for those who have seen the original, and there are many, this production is a copy of itself in every way. Almost five years have passed since the premiere and a lot has changed in the world and I'm sure in the lives of the cast and creative team as well. Actors only get better and grow with change. One would hope there would be a reflection of this growth in the character choices Defaria and Steinmeyer make, but alas there is not. The blocking is the same, the delivery of lines are the same, dramatic pauses are the same, smashing of fists on metal desks are the same…..well you get the point.
That said, and this cannot be emphasized enough, these are still two of the finest performances ever to be seen on stage, in this city or any other and I guess if your going to copy a great performance, it might was well be your own.
A Steady Rain plays through September 2nd at Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Ave. For more information including ticket purchasing, please visit,www.asteadyrainchicago.com. As special discount applies to police officers, firefighters and other city employees through the run of the show.