Tuesday, 31 May 2016

"A Steady Rain" by Keith Huff
Nottingham New Theatre.
The problem with having a play on for two days is that by the time word goes around as to how good a play is, it's gone, only to be replaced with another.
The plot bears resemblance to a real-life event involving Jeffrey Dahmer, It focuses on two Chicago policemen, Denny and Joey, who inadvertently return a Vietnamese boy to a cannibalistic serial killer who claims to be the child's uncle. When he later becomes the man's latest victim, the lifelong friendship of the two men is threatened when it becomes clear someone must bear responsibility for their failure to assess the situation accurately.
Denny is a married family man and childhood friend of Joey, who is single. After another night of trying to set Joey up with one of the local women, Denny starts off a series of events which end up with tragic circumstances.
This is a new play to me and is one reason why the Nottingham New Theatre is also becoming one of my favourite smaller theatres in Nottingham because of the choice of plays they put on.
It's a play with a great deal of passion, which is reflected in the juicy language, which pulls no punches, and maintains an air of realism throughout the one act play.
The play is a two-hander with separate and overlapping monologues performed by the two cops, occasionally erupting into violent out bursts. The lead up to the tragic ending is a masterpiece in word painting and story telling, and you don't see the harrowing ending played out until the very last minute.
Set in a stark black room with just two lights focused from above on the two actors, the concentration is all on the two men and their story.
Shannon Smith (Denny), who we last saw in "Electric Nebraska", again masters another American accent and, as in "Nebraska", looks completely at ease with the role. A very charismatic performer who completely embraces the emotional side of Denny, a racist and cheat who would do anything to protect his family.
Chris Sharp-Paul (Joey), starts out as the cooler. more placid and introverted character, but has underlying issues with his drinking, and his secret desire for Denny;s wife, Connie. The character though is a slow burner, the opposite of Shannon's explosive character, and Chris builds this slow burn up nicely.
Directed with a moody and often dangerous air by Tom Tolond, There's a subtle focus on either both, or one or the other of the characters by the dimming of the spots to highlight each character's speeches and actions. Produced by Gus Herbert.
I loved the atmosphere created by the starkness of the set and the feel these two actors emitted. You may have missed out on this excellent performance but there is more to come from the Nottingham New Theatre

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