Men will be men in ‘A Steady Rain’ at the Odyssey Theatre
By Armando Huipe
A Steady Rain by Keith Huff is a deeply rich text disguised as a buddy-cop drama. In his playwright’s note Huff explains that his words are to be considered the “steady rain.” It’s true; the production team must tackle a downpour of words in this text where two Chicago policemen are in a purgatorial space recounting pivotal moments in their lives that make them who they are. The play itself defies time and place, existing in a malleable space – brought to life in the Odyssey Theatre by Scenic and Projection Designer Adam Flemming – that shifts to fit the retelling of the lives of these two men.
Actors Thomas Vincent Kelly and Sal Viscuso masterfully embody the two characters, Joey and Denny. From dialect to movement, there is no question that the actors are fully equipped, but the production’s ultimate fault is the sophomore direction by veteran actor Jeff Perry. While the actors revel in the infinitely giving script, the direction fails to carve out a truly theatrical experience. This is the ultimate challenge, as even the playwright’s note declares that the play defies the “show not tell” rule, and predominantly tells, instead of shows, the action. The opportunity in this style is to capture the emotional reliving of a story in its retelling, a noble and beautifully poetic goal that is not quite fully realized.
The characters’ profession is the hyper-masculinized environment of police enforcement where physical condition is prerequisite and emotional hardness encouraged. Joey and Denny negotiate their masculinity with authority and policy, evolving into the 21st century. At the start, Joey adopts the political correctness and sensitivity training as law enforcement reacts to America (and Chicago’s) racial politics. Denny, the tougher and more classic representation of masculinity, quickly dismisses and even bullies Joey over his “softness.”
By the end of the play, power and stability shifts from Denny to Joey as Denny experiences a series of events that spiral him into drug abuse and depression. A Steady Rain captures the challenges of contemporary masculinity in flux.
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A Steady Rain
2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
February 22 – April 20
Tickets: $25-$30 at (310) 477-2055 ext. 2 or www.OdysseyTheatre.com