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‘A Steady Rain’ at The Capital City Players by Jessica Vaughan

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FOUR AND A HALF STARS
The Capital City Players tackle a contemporary classic with Keith Huff’s A Steady Rain – about family, love, lies, betrayal and what it means to carry a badge. Ultimately this exceptionally well-written play is about two cops.

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The players started in 1946 but constantly explore newer works; this play debuted on Broadway in 2009 with Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig in the two main rolls. It may be on the silver screen soon since Spielberg has optioned the movie rights.

The third star of the play may well be Chicago. No one could have written this but a local and Huff infuses every line with local color and detail. One of the strengths of the play is the language – the slang, the cop talk, and the short hand developed between these two cops who have known each other all their lives. The words got away from the actors sometimes but their rapport was stellar and the way Christopher Tully and Ben Calman (Denny and Joey) built this story was fascinating to watch.

Another strength of the play is its unique structure. The two narrate the crazy events on their beat during a summer when the rain did not let up – and their duty to serve and protect takes a morally suspect turn. Who is the good cop and who is the bad cop? Because the script is as much about story telling as acting, you need serious charisma to pull of the leads and paint a picture of action long past, and Calman and Tully succeed.

Christopher Tully (Denny), who also produced the show, excelled in this intense roll as an old school cop who bemoans the people who “leach the testosterone out of the law.” Ben Calman (Joey) made an excellent foil with demons of his own to fight.

Director David Dieudonné did a great job crafting tableaus with the actors and adding movement to what is ultimately two guys telling a story. The actors transition seamlessly from static reminiscences into the fraught action of the past.

Sound Editor Kevin O’Connell also helped paint the mood with the endless rain and tense ticking clock. The soundtrack synchs seamlessly with the action down to the fateful gunshots. John Lanou contributed the music. Lighting Designer Priscilla Precious Ann Porter kept it simple and let the actors do the heavy lifting with subtle cues to signal past and present.

The program includes a warning about adult situations and language and while the language is definitely…true to life…I found that themes were not much more graphic than an average of episode of Law & Order. It is the way the playwright has chosen to weave this story together of these two policemen and best friends that makes for such an engrossing story. The players have crafted a worthy theater piece about this classic buddy cop trope – it is stylized, tense, and entertaining noir.

Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission.

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A Steady Rain plays through January 25, 2014 at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop – 545 7th Street, SE in Washington, DC.  Purchase tickets online.

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