Two middle-aged men sit in a run down office. They’re police officers, Denny and Joey. This is Chicago in the 1990s, and Denny, a family man, does what he needs to do to support his wife and kids, both legal and completely illegal. He’s a stereotypical beat cop aspiring towards a promotion that he will never get because he’s racist, abusive and addicted to drugs and fucking the prostitutes he collects protection fees from.
Joey’s his best mate, and the complete opposite; he’s sensitive, supportive, respectful and in love with the life that Denny has. Days pass. Denny and Joey are partners in work and in life, having grown up with each other. Joey tries to talk down Denny’s stupid choices, Denny abuses him, then invites him over for dinner. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Keith Huff’s script is narration heavy, isolated and flips back and forth in time, centering around key moments leading up to arsehole tragic hero Denny’s (Vincent Regan) eventual fall. Because you can only be a racist, abusive copper for so long before your power tripping bad decisions, all relating to a particular handful of criminals, double back and bite. The dialogue scenes are far better, giving the two men a chance to connect with each other rather than opine to the audience. The narrative arc is low and slow, only gaining momentum after the interval. Though it has a sophisticated structure, Joey (David Schaal) is awarded for being a good guy but denied the spotlight by the blustering, powerful Denny. Regan is despicable, but memorable. The nice guys always hover in the background, right?
Design is simple, but planned with precision by Ed Ullyart and Simon Bedwell. A metal table is both benign and booming, the fridge is a fridge and an echo chamber, and the constant rain is a leaky pipe with a satisfying climax, albeit one that is over long.
Huff’s language doesn’t hold back, and neither does Regan’s performance. There is a bit too much exposition, and empathy with the characters doesn’t kick in until the superior second half, but by the end Denny’s unraveling, which Regan captures exquisitely, and Huff’s grittily poetic descriptions have the audience by the balls.
A Steady Rain.
And the rain passes. The air eventually clears. All is well, but the storm’s irrevocable damage will remain. Huff’s characters help compensate for the first part of his script, but this text-based play is longer than necessary. Fortunately the performances break through the clouds.
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