A Steady Rain
- Gareth K Vile
- 20 September 2016
Recognisable cops on a familiar journey through the mean streets
Kenny Miller's sparse and striking design – a long table and rows of buckets to contain the rain – lends Theatre Jezebel production a grey, downbeat atmosphere that suits Keith Huff's morally ambiguous script: two cops, corrupted by alcoholism and the lure of criminal money, find themselves torn between ideals of justice and self-preservation. While the themes are familiar – the price of loyalty, the dangers of being too close to the criminality of the streets, the crisis of masculinity – both Andy Clark and Robert Jack bringing a brooding melancholy to their characters.
A Steady Rain's plot revisits the tensions of films like Bad Lieutenant, without uncovering many surprises. The morality of the police is exposed as little better than that of the criminals they confront, until Clark's Denny becomes embroiled in a personal war with a pimp. Joey, his partner, is compelled to choose between his life-long friendship and the law.
The script twists throughout the second act, introducing a cannibal serial killer who exposes Denny's failure to live up to the standards of his job – even though his acts of domestic violence, vigorous racism and sense of injustice have already marked out his weaknesses. That he finally finds redemption through revenge and self-sacrifice, rewarding Joey with personal and professional success follows the well-worn path of the anti-hero: for all its complicated turns, A Steady Rain is a predictable script, hewn with the tough-talk of the American cop and a doom-laden atmosphere.
Mary McClusky's direction is solid, pushing the two actors through the word-heavy script at a measured speed – the action is all exposition, with Clark and Jack reciting their stories either to the audience or each other. The slow unfolding of the tragedy is caught between dramatic tension – Denny's final rampage is inevitable from the moment he shows his vicious temper in act one – and a melodramatic plotting – the arrival of the serial killer is heavily foreshadowed: the deep compassion that drives Denny's mania is barely glimpsed, hidden beneath his savagery and emotional incontinence.
There's almost a comfort in the predictably of the story, that never manages to delve into the two men's personalities, rendering them symbolic extremes in a focused morality play. Like Denny himself, Steady Rain comes on hard, but hides a sentimental, and confused, heart.
Tron, Glasgow, until Sat 24 Sep, 7.45pm.