“A Steady Rain” opens at Carpenter Square on January 13 and runs through February 4, 2012. The title lulls an Oklahoma audience but the constant thrumming of rain becomes just as dreary as our constant drought. Keith Huff has written a profoundly intense drama which explores the far reaching scope of modern crime from the personal perspective of two Chicago beat cops. The play draws heavily on current events and horrors, and yet the personal knowledge of police involvement in their cases is easily a greater horror than our inundation of television titillation.
The interesting thing about the fashion in which “A Steady Rain” is written is that it alternates between action from the actors and narration from the actors. Frequent transitioning from one approach to story- telling to another can be very difficult to conceptualize for an audience. Nonetheless Linda McDonald has done a marvelous job of directing and balancing the tightrope.
McDonald’s success most likely comes from an internal understanding that “A Steady Rain” isn’t really a series of transitions from narration to action, but simply a totally narrative play. In communicating a series of events intimately, a narrator often begins to act out the events. With a story of extreme personal involvement and effect, the narrator begins to relive the events as he is demonstrating those events.
Huff may have written a combined narration/action piece, and McDonald may be directing such, but she does so expressing the author’s intent beautifully because her understanding communicates with both actors and audience. This is a two-man show. Both actors, Ben Hall as Joey and Mike Waugh as Denny create a seamless story that shakes and shocks the audience to the core.
Technically the show is handled beautifully under McDonald’s direction. The set design is minimalist and Caleb Schnackenberg and McDonald have painted a perfectly evocative backdrop to emphasize the mood. Scott Hynes as Lighting Designer uses the lights to establish spaces convincingly and artfully. Assistant Director and Sound Operator Alexandra Shadid complements the mood beautifully with the ebb and flow of the constant downpour, sometimes forgotten and sometimes forcefully reminiscent of tragedy.
Due to the subject matter of “A Steady Rain” it is not a show for all audiences. However as Linda McDonald has recruited two of Oklahoma City’s finest actors to perfectly portray the conflicts of two beat cops, it stands to reason that all of Oklahoma’s finest, their families and administrators should take an opportunity to explore this drama. Carpenter Square Theatre is located at 800 West Main in downtown Oklahoma City. For reservations or information visit carpentersquare.com or call 405-232-6500.