Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Steady Rain (The SOB Review)

A Steady Rain (The SOB Review) - Schoenfeld Theatre, New York, New York

**1/2 (out of ****)

There are star vehicles, and then there are superstar vehicles. A Steady Rain easily offers the most revved-up four-on-the-floor to hit the Great White Way this season.

With a couple of the silver screen's biggest names, Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman, taking turns at the wheel of this full-throttled two-hander, it's no wonder Keith Huff's 90-minute play has already been breaking Broadway box office records.

In his Main Stem debut, Craig is nothing short of a revelation. Here, the mustachioed British thespian completely loses himself, accent and all, in the role of Joey, a flawed, yet dutiful Chicago cop desperately trying to stay within the lines. Craig's excellence suggests that despite the dapper duds he's become accustomed to as 007, he's at heart a character actor of the first order.

Craig's Joey is a recovering alcoholic. His newfound sobriety opens his eyes to the damage his lifelong police buddy Denny (Jackman) is inflicting upon himself, his family and even his community. As murky and outside the lines as Denny's self-destructive path becomes, Joey remains loyal to a fault, even putting his own career on the line.

As much as I forgot I was watching "Daniel Craig, movie star," I wish I could say the same for Hugh Jackman. While the latter turns in a completely riveting performance, he simply can't doff his star persona quite the way he did when he triumphed as Peter Allen in The Boy From Oz. Yes, he is good and he's deeply intense as the drug-addled, infidelity-proned Denny, but perhaps because of John Crowley's direction, I still saw Hugh Jackman, and that became a distraction, albeit a pleasant one.

As for the play itself, Huff's writing is cliché-driven and lacking in originality. He even borrows a key plotline out of a real cop drama that played out over a 13 year period just 90 miles to the north of the Windy City. To say we saw where he was hauling us from a mile away would be an understatement.

Fortunately, with Craig in the driver's seat, A Steady Rain steers into arresting play anyway.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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