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A Steady Rain

Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman are giving ticket buyers what they want in Keith Huff's satisfying two-hander about a pair of Chicago cops. logo
Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman in A Steady Rain
(© Joan Marcus)
Imagine you're in a Hollywood mogul's office and you're listening to a pair of screenwriters energetically pitch a thriller about two ethically-challenged Chicago cops who've been best friends since "kinnygarten" and who are explaining in often grisly detail how they've been hankering for promotion to detective for years but consistently shooting themselves in the foot. Got the picture?

If so, you're holding in your mind's eye an accurate vision of what your money happily buys with A Steady Rain, Keith Huff's two-hander that marks Daniel Craig's Broadway debut and Hugh Jackman's long-awaited return after his Tony Award-winning triumph in The Boy from Oz, now at Broadway's Schoenfeld Theatre.

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.

During the show, solidly directed by John Crowley, the pair alternately recall how Joey (Jackman), a loose-cannon policeman and unconscious bigot, goes about defending his family when Walter Lorenz, a pimp he's hassled over the years, retaliates one rainy night by shooting a bullet that shatters Joey's front window and explodes a television set so that flying glass severs an artery in his younger son's neck.

Throwing police protocol to the rain that falls steadily (and symbolically) on southside Chicago, Joey pursues Lorenz so single-mindedly that friend Denny (Craig) is also drawn into a series of increasingly dangerous and incriminating activities -- and ends up more-than-bonding with Joey's long-suffering wife, Connie. Before Huff brings a gloomy curtain down on Joey and Denny, he has supplied enough twists to open a pretzel factory. While they're hardly unusual in another police story, they foster rapt interest.

Using only their craft (and a fair amount of gesticulating), Jackman and Craig must command a stage that designer Scott Pask keeps minimally furnished, with two chairs, two hanging interrogation-room lighting fixtures, and fleeting images of Chicago buildings in the background. They definitely do so.


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