by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move
Two Chicago police officers lead us, via an intimate broken fourth wall “duologue” presentation, through a web of intrigue to their demise on the force and a tragic end. It is a “steady rain” of one mistake, mishap, violent act and bad decision after another. The repercussions of each move pour down, continuously on these two childhood friends turned law enforcement professionals, sending them speedily to the rock bottom of a slippery slope. A single drastic choice will raise one or the other out of a pit of hell.
Redemption comes at an exorbitant price. This very heavy drama is slithering with deceit, arrogance, corruption, confusion and skewed mental/emotional perception. It is also ripe with tainted values. A Steady Rain, currently running at the Odyssey Theatre, offers an inside view of several lives gone abysmally and morally off the rails.
Joey played by Thomas Vincent Kelly, is a coward. He sits back and plays the good guy to the utter dysfunction of his personal and professional relationship with his partner Denny. He essentially allows the psychotic behavior of his friend, a man over-the-edge, to continue along its destructive course, ultimately for his own personal comfort. Joey is seemingly likable, but not really. Even at what appears to be his best or his most thoughtful, he’s never totally “up-front” with anyone.
Denny, played by Sal Viscuso, has lost himself fully to the crime drama of the streets past salvageability. Denny has become everything he’s been fighting against without the sense to recognize it. Even at his most brutal, it is possible to feel a certain amount of empathy for Denny. But at this point, it is difficult to tell if there ever was a good guy in there. Denny desperately needs help. He doesn’t get it.
What fits with this show is that both of these high-caliber actors, have appeared respectively in TV police/detective dramas such as Law & Order LA, Criminal Minds, The Mentalist and Law and Order SVU, adding a fair amount of believability to their respective character portrayals as homicide detectives. What doesn’t entirely measure up is how it reads for stage. The whole drama although incredibly well-done feels occasionally camera-ized and there was the subtlest lack of street cop body language.
The production itself is incredibly detailed and emotionally thrilling. All of the technical aspects of the show are perfectly placed. The performance by Viscuso is exacting in intensity and attitude. But he often comes across more street punk – part and parcel of his moral descent. Kelly also gives us an accurate portrayal of the slightly cynical, rationalizing “lifer” detective, although sometimes a bit too “pulled back”. If one has any experience with the real thing, comparing reality versus stage, there are distinct physical behavioral qualities that resonate, at least to a more informed eye. These two gentlemen could have more weight.
Audiences however, will not be deep diving, will be completely mesmerized by this tragic story and will come away with their own set of moral questions, as they should. A Steady Rain is a fine example of thoroughly well-written and well-executed stage production. Viscuso and Kelly are otherwise brilliant.
Written by Keith Huff
Directed by Jeff Perry
Starring: Thomas Vincent Kelly and Sal Viscuso
Produced by Beth Hogan
Presented by the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, Ron Sossi Artistic Director