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Andy Hoff and RJ Debard in A Steady Rain at the John Kirby Studio. (Photo by Adam Ikaika)
Andy Hoff and RJ Debard in A Steady Rain at the John Kirby Studio. (Photo by Adam Ikaika)

A Steady Rain

Reviewed by Lovell Estell III
The John Kirby Studio
Extended through August 20

RECOMMENDED

Continuing its successful run at the 2017 Hollywood Fringe Festival, Keith Huff’s dark two-character play is centered on the long time, combustible relationship between a pair of Windy City cops, whose professional and personal lives are thrown into freefall by circumstance and tragedy.

Denny (R.J. Bernard) and Joey (Andy Hoff), who have known each other since kindergarten, are partnered-up patrolling the mean streets of Chicago. Once dedicated to the hoary motto of “To Protect and Serve,” each has been passed over for promotion three times because of various breaches of protocol. Denny is a dedicated family man, but he’s also a quick-tempered case-hardened cynic, who bristles at authority and makes “side” money hustling prostitutes and drug dealers. Joey, a struggling alcoholic, is a day-to-day plodder who lives alone in a colorless bachelor apartment and is completely dedicated to his partner and his family. He also is hopelessly in love with Denny’s wife.

The play is structured as a duologue, with both actors speaking and interacting with each other and the audience. As it progresses, we learn more about their relationship, their lives as cops and men, and the assortment of flaws and moral failings that have made them who and what they are. Things start to unravel for both men when an encounter with a pimp results in a family tragedy for Denny, and their response to a domestic disturbance call places them under intense scrutiny.

Huff clearly has his finger on the pulse of the world he has depicted, and his writing packs a punch. But there is a wispy, free-form quality about the storytelling that is at times off-putting, and the finale is not at all surprising. Still, Huff’s crafting of these two deeply flawed characters is admirably done, especially his portrait of Joey, who evinces a debased sort of nobility in his near super-human devotion to his abusive, unhinged partner. Mike Flannery’s sparse set design, consisting of a table, chairs and a locker, is more than adequate. The performances are energetic and steadfastly convincing under John Kirby’s solid direction.

 

The John Kirby Studio, 1510 N. Las Palmas Avenue, Los Angeles, Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m. (323)-467-7877 or www.steadyrain.brownpapertickets.com  Running time: ninety minutes with an intermission.

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