A STEADY RAIN
by Keith Huff.
Ustinov Studio Sawclose BA1 1ET To 11 May 2014.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 1hr 30min No interval.
TICKETS: 01225 448844.
Review: Timothy Ramsden.
Another fine instalment in the Ustinov’s excellent Broadway-on-Avon seasons.
A Hollywood action movie lies within Keith Huff’s play about two uniformed Chicago cops, buddies sharing a patrol-car. Internal politics – two White guys passed-over for promotion as detectives – sex – single Joey in his one cramped room, meeting Denny’s wife Connie. And crime, from stone-throwing to cannibalistic murder.
Plus the pair’s personalities, one spiralling inevitably down while the other treks upward. It soon becomes clear, in the shifts between narration and recreation, that one of them is telling more of the story, being faithful to Joey’s ability to relate to others, while Denny’s wrapped-up in himself. It’s only stretching a point some way to say Huff provides successors to Eddie Carbone, a family man whose passions overtake him, and Alfieri, the rational lawyer unconnected to anyone else, in Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge.
Connie, criminals, the Chicago police department are as reported in this recounting, which takes in the corruption Denny accepts as a perk of the job, and, drawn from police history, the fatal miscall which in 1991 saw two Milwaukee police hand a young man back to the serial killer he was escaping.
In tragic manner, like Miller, Huff doesn’t judge but presents the case for both men. Denny’s periodic bursts of anger and impulsive violence (you don’t know how hard you hit, his fellow cop says at Denny’s playful punches) end being self-destructive, while Joey’s considered calm show how he’s taken control of his own life.
There are no dramatic tricks, just one of the hardest things a dramatist can pull-off: the clear revealing of a story with believable characters shown through the recounting of their actions.
David Grindley is just the director for this, scrupulously and unshowily tracking events and their human causes. Bath’s studio revival has two first-rate performers who incarnate the different men with perfect conviction in Vincent Riotta’s hefty, angry Denny and Brian Doherty’s quiet observer Joey.
It’s played on a bare stage with two neutral chairs, floor and roof receding like the streets these men patrol, Jason Taylor’s lighting suggesting the rainy night-time patrols in another splendid Ustinov American import.
Denny: Vincent Riotta.
Joey: Brian Doherty.
Director: David Grindley.
Designer/Costume: Paul Wills.
Lighting: Jason Taylor.
Sound: Gregory Clarke.
Dialect coach: Rick Lipton.