A Steady Rain
Chicago Dramatists (see Resident companies). By Keith Huff. Dir. Russ Tutterow. With Peter DeFaria, Randy Steinmeyer.
Keith Huff’s police drama, about the changing fortunes of a beat-cop duo in the wake of a drive-by shooting, strikes more than a few familiar notes. There’s a hint of Richard Gere’s breathtaking bad-cop turn in Internal Affairs in alpha-male Denny, whose eventual eclipse by his good-cop partner comes straight from the second-banana palace-coup playbook. And the picture Rain paints of official misconduct recalls any number of recent serve-and-protect scandals. But Huff’s recombination of these elements offers pleasant surprises.
Convincingly set in Chicago, the play opens with a muscular description of the strike on family-man Denny’s home, which leaves his young son in critical condition. As the details of both preceding and subsequent events unfold and the Bad Lieutenant–level corruption underlying Denny’s callousness comes out, his recovering-alcoholic partner, Joey, slips bit by bit into the domestic life that Denny, his buddy since childhood, has essentially abandoned. Beneath the obvious paradox—in “providing for” then avenging his family, Denny loses everything—lies a more insidious one: While irredeemable, Denny is a sympathetic monster; while gentler and more self-aware, Joey is still a backstabbing creep. Both are bad cops; it’s just that one is much worse.
The story stumbles slightly near the end, but Huff’s demanding narrative model of dueling first-person recollections is authoritative till then, sold by hardscrabble street vernacular and no-nonsense performances from DeFaria and Steinmeyer. Excellent, evocative sound design by Mike Tutaj and focused, waste-free direction—the best I’ve seen from Tutterow—put this over the top.—Brian Nemtusak