‘Rain’ on me

Two
fine actors giving terrific performances and a director who knows when
to let well enough alone results in “A Steady Rain,” a highly satisfying
evening of theater.

Concerning
a pair of Chicago patrolmen, the play by Keith Huff isn’t so much a
police procedural as it is a study of what happens when miscreant cops
flush proper procedures.

Mike
Waugh, among Oklahoma City’s finest actors, has worked with about every
theater company in town, but this may be the performance of his career,
so far. His character, Denny, is the bad cop in the twosome. Waugh
burns with a visceral intensity that fills CST’s small space. It’s an
extraordinary performance.

Ben
Hall as the good cop, Joey, matches Waugh’s performance with a quieter
intensity. Joey has a drinking problem, and Denny exploits his partner’s
co-dependency to the point of cruelty. Beat cops — at least as
portrayed in this play — develop relationships akin to marriages, and
Joey is much like an abused wife, right down to getting punched around
sometimes by Denny. Joey’s integrity and efforts at self-improvement
seem almost naive compared to Denny’s racism and corner-cutting.

Linda McDonald’s
well-conceived staging presents “Rain” before a painted wall of mottled
blue and gray with only two wooden chairs as props.

The
actors are in civilian attire instead of police uniforms, and we know
why by the end. The way McDonald moves the actors around the stage keeps
the light-board operator busy. Scott Hynes’ lighting design efficiently
shapes the production, considering CST’s limited facilities.

Denny
and Joey aspire to be detectives, but have issues that interfere with
promotions. Some racist remarks made in the officers’ locker room
resulted in “grievances” filed against them.

Huff’s
script is largely episodic, but the stories are vivid and authentic, as
he reveals the characters’ depth and complexity. Denny and Joey also
narrate the play, so although only two actors are onstage, the audience
“sees” Rhonda, the hooker whom Denny would like to get into secretarial
school; and Connie, Denny’s wife; their kids; and even the dog.

The
work takes place during a rain-soaked Chicago summer. I’m not sure, but
the weather sound effect must be some kind of unifying device. It
doesn’t matter, because what takes place onstage and in your imagination
breeds the success of this show.

Larry Laneer

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