Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Steady Rain


By Keith Huff. Directed by John Crowley. The Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. (CLOSED)

If ever there was a case for stunt casting, A Steady Rain is it. The reviews are mostly positive and the show, about two Chicago cops who have been passed over for detective, is a box office success. Critics find that Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman elevate the material of this all-talk cop drama. Craig receives better notices than Jackman, who many find miscast, though still a pleasure to watch. Director John Crowley and set designer Scott Pask are also singled out in the reviews for making a mediocre play seem good, but most of the space is dedicated to Craig and Jackman, since according to the critics, that's the only reason the play made it to Broadway. A film version is in the works and many critics say it is not to be missed on stage, though others think the material is better suited for a film.

Backstage A+
(David Sheward) Though its plot sounds like one you might hear at a Hollywood pitch meeting, Keith Huff's "A Steady Rain" offers one of the most powerful theatrical experiences in many seasons. This is mainly due to John Crowley's tight direction and the masterful performances of a pair of movie hunks best known for their adventure capers. Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman prove they are much more than James Bond and Wolverine in this heavyweight smackdown... Jackman and Craig endow Denny and Joey with a deep history, vivifying Huff's backstory. Jackman displays an almost animalistic rage that comes from a different place than Wolverine's. Denny cares deeply for his family, and that provides the justification for his criminal actions. Jackman pulls off an acting miracle in managing to make this violent racist sympathetic. Craig gives Joey the same demons but convincingly portrays his questioning, unsatisfied nature, which forces him to fight them.

Talkin' Broadway A+
(Matthew Murray) What Huff does, and what makes this an ideal vehicle for high-caliber stars, is allow plenty of room for uncertainty within the "I did this, I did that" limits of the form. The guys may speak mostly to us, but they're working separately, weaving threads that only occasionally overlap. One might utter a statement the other needs to correct, openly or surreptitiously; a key detail or fact that one leaves out may not be an accident, as the other proves later. You believe, from the first moment to the last, that these men have lived their lives intertwined, and Huff uses that to fuel his story, showing how their friendship is challenged, bent, broken, and repaired, almost entirely within the natural subtext of two guy's guys who aren't exactly apt to reveal their deepest feelings. So even though Joey and Denny tell us everything they do, there are an unusual number of gaps when it comes to explaining why. That's where adventurous actors with think-on-their-feet stage experience become essential, and Jackman and Craig are able to scribble on this blank slate of a play right to the edges, in ways uniquely theirs. The betrayed exasperation Jackman brings to Denny's chastising the world's lack of logic as walls start collapsing around him could come from no one else: part whine, part commandment, all machismo that's more blood oath than affect but more ineffectual than commanding. Craig is utterly convincing as both the wispy Joey who needs Denny to fight his battles and the more confident man who's unafraid to take what he wants, even if he shouldn't have it - his overflow of gentleness and absence of malice prevent you from detesting behavior that, by the end of the play, has become highly questionable. But Jackman and Craig know when to leave space blank, as well - they present Denny and Joey as empty vessels that only the other can fill, which opens so many doors for the triumphs and tragedies the play documents over the course of one rainy summer. And they keep you guessing throughout. Craig plays the secretly opportunistic Joey as completely without guile; Jackman imbues Denny with a good-natured humor and reluctant charm, when the character seems to demand off-putting brusqueness and even violence in the way he approaches his daily affairs. These choices go against expectations, but they work because they help you understand both men better. Violating the script's apparently stated precepts in this way is not a beginner's choice, and it requires real chops to pull off when the material itself is less than absolutely scintillating.

Newsday A
(Linda Winer) Huff, a longtime Chicago playwright, has clearly hit the dreamboat jackpot for his Broadway debut. This is a tight, mean story about a petty, mean world, unflinchingly staged (with surprisingly good Chicago accents) by British director John Crowley ("The Pillowman") on a bare stage that, every so often, is shadowed by the scary/sad outline of tenements. The writing is part second-generation David Mamet, part TV cop show - not profound or wildly original, but commanding, with both a bully-boy swagger and a closely observed sense of casual ugliness. Jackman and Craig mostly sit in chairs under what appear to be interrogation lamps. They tell their versions of events in the past tense, sometimes to us, sometimes to each other. Jackman - radically transformed from his Tony-winning song-and-dance flamboyance as "The Boy From Oz" - boasts black patent-leather hair and the insolent air of entitlement as Denny, the family man and alpha dog in this friendship. Craig - an experienced London stage actor but a genuine discovery for Broadway - plays the milder-mannered Joey, a lonely alcoholic who seems to want to hide behind his bland mustache. He may be a less flashy character, but his drives are no less primal.

Variety A
(David Rooney) The Broadway staging is inevitably inflated by star power, but Crowley has maintained the arresting spareness the work seems to dictate. There are monolithic setpieces as Chicago tenements and seedy alleys loom in the background, conjured in rich detail by designer Scott Pask out of the blackness and lit with surgical precision by Hugh Vanstone. And there's abstemious use of Mark Bennett's moody soundtrack, feeding the hardboiled film-noir atmosphere. But the expert balance of visual austerity with occasional descriptive embellishment -- echoing the director's work on "The Pillowman" -- never intrudes on the play's emotional intimacy. Likewise the performances are not star turns but complex characterizations that peel back layer upon layer of reticent self-protection to reveal increasingly uncomfortable truths... Crowley places the two actors on chairs in the stark space under interrogation-room lights, as if debriefing the audience. Via passages of dialogue that are both gruff and poetic, Huff builds on that exposure to dig into the murky bonds of male friendship and brotherhood -- the shifting lines separating loyalty from betrayal, love from resentment, honor from shame. Craig and Jackman are onstage for the entire intermissionless 85 minutes, and Crowley is judicious in knowing when to keep them pinned to their seats and when to have them move restlessly about the stage or physicalize the events they're recounting. When one man is talking, the other is always watching, intent on his partner's every word, waiting to jump in with a conflicting perspective.

On Off Broadway A
(Matt Windman) "A Steady Rain," Keith Huff's two-actor star vehicle about a pair of overwhelmed cops, was destined to be a hit as soon as its film celeb cast was announced. But as it turns out, the intimate drama is engaging, gritty and even poetic. In other words, much better than expected. And in John Crowley's minimalistic but effective production, Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig are delivering thoroughly intense performances that captivate on a level of high ferocity.

USA Today A
(Elysa Gardner) The traits that made Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig obvious fits for Wolverine and James Bond are not, however, their most valuable assets here. True, the actors' rugged masculinity lends credibility to their portraits of Chicago police officers who have seen their share of scuffles, both in and out of the line of duty. But Rain's Denny and Joey, lifelong buddies turned partners in law enforcement, are neither superheroes nor glamorous anti-heroes. They're regular Joes who are challenged — as cops, as friends, as human beings — by a confluence of devastating developments. They require a more subtle physical and emotional fluency — the kind that enabled Craig and Jackman to carve three-dimensional men out of sexy action figures, and has served both stars in a wide variety of stage and screen roles.

The Telegraph A
(Claire Stenhouse) Some saw it as a casting stroke of genius, others as a cynical attempt to beat the recession and cash in on the stars’ popularity. Craig, as his screen alter-ego James Bond, usually comes with an array of fancy gadgets courtesy of Q. Jackman, otherwise known as Wolverine in the X-Men movies, seldom appears without his flashing metal claws. But anyone fearing that the two actors needed a battery of special effects to make an impact was proved wrong. From the moment the curtain went up until the play’s poignant end, they held the audience spellbound... he duo gave a tight, nuanced performance, complete with convincing Chicago accents. Jackman, who won a Tony Award for his 2004 Broadway debut in The Boy From Oz, was enthralling as the big hearted but corrupt cop. By turns humorous, dark and tense, the actors handled Keith Huff’s evenly paced drama, directed by John Crowley, with a skill and subtlety which rarely gets chance to shine in Hollywood.

New Jersey Newsroom A-
(Michael Sommers) Although the modest play is little more than a conventional cop drama, its troubled characters and the painful incidentals of their fraying ties should satisfy anybody not expecting to watch the stars interpret Shakespeare. Their expert performances lend the slick play credibility. His good looks disguised with a bad haircut and bushy mustache, Craig infuses his brooding loner Joey with a wistful sort of he-man sensitivity. Hands blurring in constant motion, Jackman's foul-mouthed Italian paisano Denny is a simmering stew of mixed emotions. The actors' interplay is swift, true and confident and their final face-off reduces the audience to a hush.

LA Times A-
(Charles McNulty) Now these fellows could charm the pants off half (if not three-quarters) of the audience just by reading the proverbial phone book. Obviously, the play here isn't the thing, and Huff lets his plot ride roughshod over his characters. But under John Crowley’s spare and precise direction, the actors earn their adulation, magnifying what’s most gripping about Huff’s writing even when the drama, stretched thin with bang-bang incident, becomes considerably less believable over time. And for those worried about authenticity, fear not: Although Jackman is from Australia and Craig is from England, they slip into the American reality of their characters as if it were a second skin... In an intimate theater, “A Steady Rain” probably seems larger than it is. But in a Broadway house, the play’s smallness is unmistakable — a vehicle for stars to shine in and not much more. Yes, it’s a tad disappointing that the work that lured this unexpected tag-team to Broadway is comparatively so unchallenging. It's even more so when you consider the leads' impressive international theater backgrounds — Jackman in musicals (“Oklahoma!,” a Tony-winner for “The Boy from Oz”), Craig in groundbreaking drama (Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America,” Caryl Churchill’s “A Number”). What New York producer in his or her right mind would have turned down their request to do something more ambitious?

TheaterMania A-
(David Finkle) While their Chicago accents may not be perfect, Craig and Jackman -- best known to film fans as James Bond and Wolverine respectively -- are giving movie-star hungry ticket buyers enough of what they want (other than taking their shirts off). In doing so, they easily make the intermissionless 90-minute work a satisfying time in the theater. Craig, sporting a less-than-attractive mustache and comb-over (which makes him resemble Ted Levine on Monk) is a stage natural who is solidly authentic in every utterance and movement, while Jackman once again displays the kind of masculine grace blended with gruff virility that guarantees uninterrupted attention from the audience.

The Observer A-
(Jesse Oxfeld) Directed by John Crowley, it’s an episode of The Shield, played in flashback. It manages to pull at heartstrings—not once but twice at the preview I attended, the audience sighed aloud at sad plot revelations—without making us care much about the characters, who are one-dimensionally unpleasant from the moment we meet them: One’s an asshole, the other’s a sad sack. But as a showcase for these two actors, the thing seems almost purpose-built. Both actors adopt the long vowels and gruff manner of South Side Chicago. Mr. Jackman’s doesn’t quite work; there’s always a hint of his natural Australian accent. Indeed, while he gives Denny the necessary braggadocio and wounded charisma, he never stops being Hugh Jackman: a showman who’s playing a part, if very competently. Mr. Craig, however, nails the accent, and nails the role. He is spectacular, burying himself inside a cheap suit and floppy mustache and becoming a beaten-down, working-class Midwesterner. There’s no trace of James Bond; he has turned himself into William H. Macy. B
(Victor Gluck) Nothing the actors do suggest the Chicago setting. Considering the amount of beer the men claim to have drunk, the actors are much too trim in the waistline to be credible. Of the two, Craig is more believable. Dressed in a suit and tie, with a very noticeable mustache, Craig is almost unrecognizable from his previous roles. His subtle performance as the follower Joey, who is highly ethical, makes this a very complex character. Although Jackman has usually played bigger than life heroic characters in his films, Denny is a brother to many of his action roles, and this doesn’t seem much of a stretch for this talented actor. While it is possible to forget Craig’s résumé while watching him as Joey, Jackman’s performance does not obliterate his screen persona as Denny. While the stage is empty except for the two chairs on which the men sit, at key points in the play, Scott Pask’s magnificent depiction of Chicago tenements are revealed behind them, beautifully lit by Hugh Vanstone. So startling and effective are these towering designs that they are almost a distraction from the intense, small focus the play had kept on the two actors. Mark Bennett is responsible for the original mood music that punctuates several dramatic moments. The steady rain that is describes as continuing throughout the story is not made a very conscious element in Bennett’s sound design.

Hollywood Reporter B
(Frank Scheck) It all comes across like an elongated pitch meeting for an over caffeinated buddy-cop movie that might be directed by Sidney Lumet or Martin Scorsese. That the play works to the extent it does is a testament to the actors. Jackman, in his first New York stage appearance since his very different turn as Peter Allen in "The Boy From Oz," is in full macho-bluster mode and is hugely entertaining. Craig is even more of a revelation. The British actor tends to be a bit recessive in his film roles (his James Bond, to my mind, is a stiff). But here, making his American stage debut, he delivers a highly convincing, engaging turn, complete with a terrific Chicago accent, which works beautifully. The two actors display a terrific chemistry together that should well translate to the inevitable screen version.

The Times B-
(Matt Wolf) Jackman’s performance is the question mark that hovers over this adroit staging by John Crowley, the London-based director. Playing the slightly larger of the show’s two roles, Jackman is charm incarnate even when the play begins to chill. It may simply be that the actor best known as Wolverine cuts too innately glamorous a presence to give full due to the downward spiral of a racist cop called Denny, though I for one would love to see Jackman’s Coriolanus or Antony. He’s a fine actor, here handed an assignment that doesn’t entirely fit. Craig, intriguingly, inhabits his part like a character actor unexpectedly turned star who has been given the chance to remind us of his serious acting chops. Jackman, in turn, has become so popular a personality, especially in America, that it’s more difficult to envisage him on the seamy free-fall into the abyss that is Denny’s fate.

Chicago Tribune B-
(Chris Jones) If only Hugh Jackman, the co-star of this two-man play about cops whose personal relationships become entangled with the crime on Chicago’s streets, could have managed a similar transformation. He does not. Denny, Joey’s racy partner and one of those angry men addicted to life on the edge, is a tough nut for the preternaturally handsome, articulate and charismatic Jackman to crack. Sure, he finds the energy and charm of the guy (the kind of early-peaker we all knew at high school), and the drive of Jackman’s personality certainly helps this simple Chicago play land with a mainstream New York audience. And land it does. Over the course of 90 minutes of dueling monologues, Denny goes to seed, like all guys of his type eventually go to seed, before our very eyes. Steinmeyer had that down cold. But you do not stare up at Jackman’s well-toned body and Hollywood style and picture a desperate man on morphine, flailing between a wife and hooker, watching his cocksure routine turn to dust. You could. Jackman, a formidable talent, has it in him. But he has to be more willing to mess himself up, to deconstruct his own celebrity persona and stare his own inevitable decay in the face. On the rough Chicago streets, as Huff’s unstinting play suggests, time is truncated, and a cop can grow old and tired on a single night. That’s what this script demands. Without that element, it just comes off as a well-written police procedural, which I suspect is how it will be viewed by some tastemakers in New York, although in Chicago I thought this script also offered a great deal more.

Lighting & Sound America C+
(David Barbour) Huff knows how to keep the surprises coming, and, on its best and most basic level, A Steady Rain has the page-turning fascination of a good crime novel. But the playwright makes a basic mistake, I think, in having Denny and Joey speak directly to us, narrating the tale by turns, and only occasionally acting out a scene together. Denny's moral corner-cutting and Joey's silence have trapped them in a web of complicity and retaliation, and every attempt at extrication only tightens their constraints. Given their circumstances, they should be choking with rage and/or tongue-tied with guilt. But the script requires them to deliver the story with such fluency that its darker emotions are smoothed over. The action climaxes in a profound, if necessary, act of betrayal -- but you never feel the full power of it, because it all seems so after-the-fact. The script is full of horrors, all of them held at arm's length. Because of this slight distancing effect, you start to notice just how contrived the narrative is and how brazenly Huff tries to score his points. Thus, a concealed case of gangrene doubles as a symbol for moral decay, and an innocent victim is found clutching a puppy. Instances of violence against children are employed, frequently and shamelessly. Stars that they are, Craig and Jackman effortlessly seize your attention; employing surprisingly good Chicago accents, they create a believably troubled friendship. To my mind, Craig's Joey has the edge, pacing the stage and using awkward hand gestures to create a guy who isn't really at home in his own skin. There's a chilling look in his eye as he begins to make calculations that are both thoroughly logical and -- he is forced to admit -- utterly selfish.

Entertainment Weekly C+
(Lisa Schwarzbaum) The sight and sound of Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman on stage, grappling with flat Chicago accents as Windy City cops in Keith Huff's two-man play, A Steady Rain, is so startling that it takes a minute to handle the truth. The British movie star famous as James Bond and the Aussie movie star famous as Wolverine are appearing on Broadway in the kind of slight, artificially structured American chamber piece that normally lives on a small Off-Broadway stage. And even after the shock passes, the dissonance distracts. Why are these international stars playing parochial characters inferior to any cop on TV?

The Daily News C+
(Joe Dziemianowicz) The cop tale careens from bad to worse to horror movie. Imagine a putrid police blotter steeped in drugs, stabbings, baby-killing and cannibalism. Stirring stuff, to a degree. Because we only hear about the incidents, the visceral impact is muted. And since there's no emotional keyhole to let us in, the saga hits the head, but not the gut or heart. The moments when the play is most alive are when Scott Pask's moody set pieces come to light. Amid all the grisly imagery, Huff seeks to comment on what it means to serve and protect — as a cop, husband, father and friend. But the drama is so fraught with calamity, even within that title metaphor, it gets contrived. That's what happens when you jam 12 episodes of a TV series about a rogue cop into 90 minutes.

The New York Times C+
(Ben Brantley) Previously seen at the Powerhouse Theater at Vassar and the Chicago Dramatists (with far less famous actors), “A Steady Rain” takes up a sit-dram setup made popular in gritty plays and movies of the 1930s: Best friends since childhood, in the same tough neighborhood, find themselves on different sides of the law and in love with the same woman! Clark Gable, William Powell, James Cagney and Pat O’Brien all played one or the other side of this equation on screen. After a decade or so of hard use, that formula looked threadbare and made for parody, though it has persisted and can still be glimpsed in episodes of “Law & Order” and similar television fare. If Mr. Huff has not managed to reweave this premise with any surprising threads, he has packed it with enough lurid incident to fill a season of “Law & Order.”... Mr. Crowley, who brilliantly staged Martin McDonagh’s “Pillowman” on Broadway in 2005, directs with restraint, elegance and limited imagination. Working with the accomplished team of Scott Pask (scenery and costumes), Hugh Vanstone (lighting) and Mark Bennett (music and sound), he occasionally has Joey and Denny’s memories assume three-dimensional form, with mean streets and forbidding woods materializing from the darkness behind them. He needn’t have bothered. Nobody goes to “A Steady Rain,” which ends its hot-ticket limited run on Dec. 6, to look at scenery.

(Roma Torre) Despite its high ambitions, it's just too plot-heavy and unbelievable to feel like much more than a good night of TV viewing. Unlike TV though, the characters break the fourth wall and tell their stories directly to the audience for practically the entire 90-intermissionless minutes. Only occasionally do they address each other. It's an interesting concept that amounts to story theater. Director John Crowley gives it all its worth, spiking the suspense with fevered pacing aided by Scott Pask's realistic inner city setting. But, of course, it all comes down to the performances, and both Craig and Jackman are solid stage actors. Craig nails the accent a little bit better than Jackman, who occasionally gives his lines an Aussie inflection. But they handle the clipped banter well, and both are convincing as street-hardened cops.

The Village Voice C
(Michael Feingold) Under John Crowley's direction, the two stars present the increasingly far-fetched tale with an amiable diffidence that lets them show you their acting ability, as each gets into his character's moments of personal pain, while carefully keeping the sordid events at a distance. These two clean-cut, good-looking guys—who wouldn't want to spend time with them, even though one's supposed to be a near-psychopathic drughead thug and the other his ineffectual, booze-hazed enabler? The realities of a gangrenous leg, a kick to the jaw of a prone suspect, or a dead baby in a garbage bag are not dwelled upon, merely reported as data, added to the increasingly high pile-up of narrated events. The line that divides cop reality from crime-corn gets crossed constantly, with a few actual police-news moments dropped in for good measure, including a famous incident from the Jeffrey Dahmer case, moved south from Milwaukee for the occasion. It doesn't particularly add up to anything but a nice little shudder, for those able to snag tickets. Jackman, with his wonderful easy fluidity, shows once again that he's a natural-born stage star; Craig, saddled with a less showy role and an English-prof toothbrush mustache, does lots of wild gesticulating before settling into his character and showing that he, too, has what the stage demands. One wouldn't mind seeing either man in an actual play sometime.

Associated Press C
(Michael Kuchwara) Superheroes can do just about anything on screen, courtesy of the special effects department. But put them on stage and their dependency on a solid script becomes more apparent. A case in point: Daniel Craig, filmdom's current James Bond, and Hugh Jackman, the movies' Wolverine, go up against a minor, melodramatic little play called "A Steady Rain" by Keith Huff. And while both men, particularly Craig, acquit themselves well, they can't turn the 90-minute evening into anything more than a chance to see two big-time movie stars emoting up close in a pulpy, plot-heavy entertainment.

New York Post
(Elisabeth Vincentelli) Huff's idea of thinking outside the box begins and ends with his naming the Irish character Joey (Craig) and the Italian one Denny (Jackman). Everything else is steeped in hoary convention, from the flashback structure to the tone, dripping with tough-guy attitude... Stuck with two guys reminiscing for 90 minutes, director John Crowley ("The Pillowman") resorts to pulling Scott Pask's beautiful sets in and out of the shadows at key dramatic points. It's impressive but feels like a desperate attempt to give the audience something to look at. In the end, it all circles back to the middling writing. Typically, a big plot point revolves around the fact that Denny and Joey believe a blond surfer dude is, as he claims, the uncle of a distraught Vietnamese boy. Are we really meant to think these guys are morons? Craig and Jackman were clearly eager to appear onstage together. Too bad they picked a clunky squad car for a vehicle.

Bloomberg News C-
(John Simon) Craig and Jackman work conspicuously hard and John Crowley, who also directed “The Pillowman,” comes up with as much movement as conceivable under the circumstances. Still, I could not join some spectators’ audible gasps and moans. I remained more aware of the evening’s drizzle outside the theater than of the steady, meant-to-be-exacerbating rain mentioned onstage. Not unlike Hugh Vanstone’s lighting, which, as scripted, indicates changes of time and locale by dimming or intensifying, my lukewarm involvement came and went. And when it was on, it was mostly for the effort the two stars must have expended learning an alien language so fluently and flawlessly. The program informs us that “A Steady Rain” is the first installment of a Chicago cop trilogy already completed and presumably raring to go into production. I am not holding my breath.

NYMag C-
(Scott Brown) Jackman does an excellent job playing a man who heedlessly jumps the median between superego and id, in the best tradition of the self-mythologizing American sociopath. The erstwhile X-man has never spelled danger, with or without muttonchops, yet Craig looks scared enough of him to keep us on edge. Don’t expect to see a trace of the unsettlingly marmoreal Bond: Craig locates Joey’s peculiar strength in his unrepentant vulnerability. (Kinda wish they’d switch off roles on alternate nights, True West−style.) But Huff’s testimonial conceit grows frustrating after a while—Denny and Joey are stuck reciting stacks of three-by-five storyboard cards when all we want is to see these guys effin’ go at each other. Even as the play thins though, Jackman and Craig know how to make a mud puddle look hip-deep—a great help to any audience member trying to square his $125 ticket price with the fact that he saw all of this last night on TNT. I mean, come on: foreboding rain? A loose cannon paired with a Schmo Friday? A man who “has every right to do anything it takes to protect his family”? A sinister figure, lightning-limned in the doorway? This is a basic-cable-grade stuff, Mr. Huff. It’s not even HBO. It’s TV. You’ve got a voice. Go get a subject.

The New Yorker C-
(Hilton Als) All that will stay with you when you leave the theatre is the fact that you have just watched two movie stars—Australia’s Hugh Jackman and Britain’s Daniel Craig—try on Midwestern accents like some kind of drag. Jackman gives it all he’s got—he’s a physical actor, who finds his character in movement—but Craig understands how to work with stillness. He can express his character’s guilt by making his body appear tight and wounded and expansive all at once. Although, by appearing live, these two are taking a chance, the play falls well within their comfort zone: it’s as neatly plotted as any Hollywood movie written by committee (and is now slated to become one).

Washington Post D+
(Peter Marks) What Jackman and Craig describe might come across as more entertaining or shocking if it did not feel as if it were a compressed version of the narratives of a dozen TV shows, from "Homicide: Life on the Street" to "The Wire," that have tried to get at the moral ambiguity of police work. Or perhaps if the stories were being told in a smaller theater, by a pair of actors of working-Joe countenance, able to convey in their gazes and intonations more of the soul-withering wear and tear of patrolling a beat in a bad part of town. As it is, the playwright takes a graphic-novel approach, overloading us with depictions of violence, as if he feels the need to offer up explosive images in every panel. By the time Jackman's Denny polishes off the last credulity-defying anecdote about the wanton discharge of a weapon or the final breaths of an innocent, the surfeit of exposition has numbed us into indifference. For all its modish, stripped-down staginess, "A Steady Rain" is presented as that timeworn convention, a star vehicle. It might be an opportunity for audiences to see in-vogue movie actors in the flesh, but otherwise it's an opportunity squandered.

Time Out New York D-
(David Cote) This epitome of “event theater”—which in terms of writing is no event at all—raises a bigger question: Can producers not exploit brute celebritude for greater good? A Steady Rain is pulling down more than $1 million a week because starstruck hordes want nothing more than to be in the presence of the hunky duo; I wish they wanted more. Still, if the masses will swarm to anything, why not give them art? Why not put Craig and Jackman in a decent play, perhaps a double bill of The Dumb Waiter and The Zoo Story? Hell, I’d rather watch them enact the screenplay of Lethal Weapon than Huff’s cliché-filled pile of good-cops-gone-bad tropes.

Backstage A+ 14; Talkin' Broadway A+ 14; Newsday A 13; Variety A 13; On Off Broadway A 13; USA Today A 13; The Telegraph A 13; New Jersey Newsroom A- 12; LA Times A- 12; TheaterMania A- 12; The Observer A- 12; B 10; Hollywood Reporter B 10; The Times Online B- 9; Chicago Tribune B- 9; Lighting & Sound America C+ 8; EW C+ 8; The Daily News C+ 8; The New York Times C+ 8; NY1 C+ 8; The Village Voice C 7; AP C 7; New York Post C- 6; Bloomberg News C- 6; NYMag C- 6; The New Yorker C- 6; Washington Post D+ 5; TONY D- 3; TOTAL: 265/28 = 9.46 (B-)


Anonymous said...

Do we really need 450 words from Matthew Murray's review? No, we don't. This site is much more useful and enjoyable when it compresses the reviews.

TaylorSwift said...

As many of plays lovers I LOVE A Steady Rain ! It is my favourite ever...I've seen it in New York and next week I’m going to visit my sister and I just got some pretty good tickets via:
So I'll be analyzing as well as enjoying the show.