A STEADY RAIN

by Keith Huff

* * * * *

Presented at C103 (formerly known as the Catalyst Theatre)

Featuring Jesse Gervais and John Ullyatt

Directed by Wayne Paquette

Production Design by Daniela Masellis

Stage Managed by Joan Wyatt

Photographs by Mat Simpson Photography http://matsimpson.co/

Poster and Programs by Tynan Boyd and Joel Crichton

A STEADY RAIN

by Keith Huff

(from the producer / writer of “Mad Men”, “House of Cards”, and “American Crime”)

Denny and Joey, a couple of Chicago beat cops. Passed over for promotions to Detective. Again. They start to feel like something’s screwy with the system. And maybe the way to get ahead is to go outside that system.

Denny and Joey end up being caught between cleaning up their act and making it worse. And when a personal attack on Denny’s family adds fuel to the fire, it sends them blazing so out of control that not even the rain can put it out.

Fiery, poetic, and action-packed, it is not to be missed. It stars Jesse Gervais and John Ullyatt, two of Edmonton’s finest actors, who will bring Keith Huff’s script to life with a compelling and emotionally-rattling edge.

REVIEWS

THE EDMONTON JOURNAL – Liz Nicholls

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/entertainment/Review+Tense+drama+Steady+Rain+shows+Ullyatt+Gervais/11099825/story.html

Tense drama A Steady Rain shows off Ullyatt’s, Gervais’ versatility

In the opening moments of A Steady Rain, Keith Huff’s gritty and escalating tale of two childhood BFFs who grew up to be Chicago cops, you might very well figure the play to come would take place there in the squad car, just like a couple of decades’ worth of TV and movie buddy-cop stories.

You’d be a bit right and a lot wrong.

As Wayne Paquette’s absorbing production reveals, A Steady Rain is more than an odd-couple black comedy with frayed edges. It turns out to be a drama of complex, mounting stakes that takes a stab at the heart, or some other vital organ, of friendship. In a dangerous world like the mean streets of south Chicago, where the law reaches only so far into natural lawlessness, can you survive without friends — or without betraying them? Ah, that’s a harder question. And as the friendship between volatile family man Denny (John Ullyatt) and his more cautious and circumspect single partner Joey (Jesse Gervais) reveals fault lines under the strain, so does our sense of which end is up, morally speaking.

In two-hander thrillers, you can’t rely on car chases or explosions to take a bullet for, well, anything. It’s all in the acting. In Ullyatt and Gervais, the play that attracted a couple of superstars — Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig in its 2009 Broadway incarnation — has acquired the services of two of Edmonton’s most accomplished actors. And they apply themselves with impressive nuance and emotional commitment to the characters telling us their interlocking stories here. We find the two on a stage that’s nearly bare save for a couple of unforgiving chairs, a table, a pair of screens, harsh pools of light — all designed (by Daniela Masellis) to give the interrogation-room vibe. Gradually we see why. Denny and Joey talk to us separately, but seem attenuated to the differences, both niggling and enormous, between their accounts of a summer of disintegration when it never stopped raining. Bit by bit, in the play’s weave of monologues and dramatized scenes, we piece it all together, as the colours darken into tragedy. And we come to understand their compelling need to justify themselves, both together and, as the narrative fractures, separately.

As Denny, Ullyatt creates a vivid, dimensional portrait of a fast-talking hot head on a short fuse, whose best qualities — open-heartedness, generosity, a fierce desire to protect the underdog — are inextricably linked to his worst. The latter includes a certain flamboyant preference for revenge over rules, and the verbal plausibility to justify any impulse, no matter self-evidently venal or insanely ill-advised. In short, a main-chance guy, a master of BS, as he occasionally acknowledges. The drive-by shooting at Denny’s place that unleashes spiralling chaos is by no means unrelated to his “police work” shaking down pimps and bar owners, and going home with hookers. And things go downhill from there.

Joey, as Gervais conveys in an appealingly complex performance, is the warier one — more reserved, more submissive, more mindful of how things align with ordinary decency. He isn’t the instigator; he’s the watcher. Rescued from the alcoholic abyss by his friend, he now has a sense of what rebirth, and a career, might mean. And as Denny’s activities get wilder, and the price tag on violence goes out of control — the play references the most lurid and gruesome crime of the ‘70s and its repercussions on the characters — Joey is increasingly torn between opposing calls of conscience and guilt.

Paquette’s production knows where the play’s strength, and its suspense, lies: in the characters who react so differently to crisis. It’s a tense and well-paced 90 minutes of theatre with two of our most watchable stars. If that isn’t a come-on, it should be.

THE EDMONTON SUN – Colin MacLean

http://www.edmontonsun.com/2015/05/30/colin-mclean-a-steady-rain-an-abrasive-provocative-play

A Steady Rain an ‘abrasive, provocative’ play

Keith Huff’s A Steady Rain is probably best known for its 100% sold-out run on Broadway.

The play managed to attract box-office behemoths Daniel Craig (James Bond) and Hugh Jackman (Wolverine). Beyond the box office gold, however, the play is a gritty two-hander that provides two superb local performers (under one able director) a chance to spread their creative wings.

In his abrasive, provocative play, (90 minutes – no intermission) Huff moves far beyond the good cop/bad cop premise, overcoming the cliches of the genre, to probe into the meaning of friendship, decency, betrayal and self-delusion.

Two Chicago street cops, Joey (Jesse Gervais) and Denny (John Ullyatt) have been friends since kindergarten.

They patrol the streets of Chicago in a very different manner. Denny is a borderline psychotic with a wobbly moral compass. He has been beating up his partner since they were kids and Joey just takes it because their friendship is really all he’s got.

Denny’s life is often defined by his petty corruption and a misplaced, blurred vision of how far he must go to protect his family. Joey, an ex-alcoholic, has no life of his own – only Denny and his family.

And in one existential, rainy summer in Chicago it all unravels.

Unlike the familiar “buddy” movies and TV shows (except perhaps True Detective) the play unfolds in a series of reflective, overlapping monologues interspersed with dramatic scenes.

The narrators are untrustworthy and their stories often contradict. The two are facing what looks like a board of inquiry, while talking to each other and ultimately, the audience.

Director Wayne Paquette and his two performers create an uneasy sense of impending tragedy as they take us down those dark, mean streets.

Ullyatt’s Denny is compelling, fiery and pugnacious in his hatred of authority, his racist views of “them” and his slippery moral sense.

He’s not above ripping off prostitutes and tavern owners for a few bucks but he also helps his friend overcome alcoholism. Ullyatt makes Denny’s final disintegration truly spectacular.

Gervais avoids the trap of playing Joey as a wimp as he finds himself debating what friendship means. Together they certainly make you feel that they are indeed friends who have shared the same cramped lives through years of good times and bad.

It’s hard to imagine that the Craig/Jackman pairing could have been any more effective than director Wayne Paquette’s casting of Ullyatt and Gervais. After years of watching these two fine actors create memorable portraits of characters in crisis, it’s hard to imagine anyone doing it better.

Four and a half SUNS out of five.

 

VUE WEEKLY – Bruce Cinnamon

http://www.vueweekly.com/a-steady-rain-takes-aim-at-toxic-masculinity/

A Steady Rain premièred in Chicago in 2007, but its themes of street violence and police brutality could not be more topical.

Focusing on two Chicago beat cops, the play offers a glimpse into the always-under-threat mindset of the people who are supposed to be protecting the public but who end up committing crimes against civilians, particularly people of colour. Over a full month of Biblically ceaseless rain, we watch a life-long relationship rapidly disintegrate as one of the partners goes off the rails on a roaring rampage of revenge.

Denny (John Ullyatt) and Joey (Jesse Gervais) share the symmetrical stage, alternating between monologues directed towards the audience and scenes shared together.

The actors’ storytelling skills make for some funny and horrifying recollections, which they unspool in their best southside accents. But the chemistry between the two makes their shared scenes far more electric than when one of them is hanging back in the shadows, listening along with the audience.

One of the play’s chief strengths is that it commits to having two extremely unlikable characters with few, if any, redeeming qualities. Denny is blatantly racist, offended by the mere suggestion of sensitivity training. “They want tolerance from me they should start tolerating my intolerance,” he quips.

By comparison, Joey seems like the good cop. But even while he’s playing at being the moral one, he’s positioning himself to steal Denny’s wife and family.

The play takes aim at the kind of toxic masculinity that makes men cover up their wounds (both physical and psychological), not ask for help and dismiss childhood psychopathic behaviour as “boys will be boys.”

At one point, Denny accuses their politically correct police chief of “trying to leach the testosterone from the law.” It’s an apt metaphor. A Steady Rain leaches the testosterone from big-budget cop movies where the hero is always in the right and the collateral damage is never fully assessed. Taking away the explosions and the inviolate sense of righteousness brings a harsh reality to these stories, leaving only two incredibly broken men and the series of poor decisions they’ve made.

 

AFTER THE HOUSE LIGHTS – Jenna Marynowski

http://afterthehouselights.com/2015/05/31/a-steady-rain-a-homegrown-portrayal-of-an-american-reality/

Blarney Production’s A Steady Rain is even better than what I imagined after reading Keith Huff’s script. The script itself is emotional and hits you hard, but being primarily two monologues between Chicago beat cops Denny and Joey, I thought Blarney might have some difficulties staging something that didn’t feel like ‘talking heads’. I shouldn’t have worried. Stellar co-stars Jesse Gervais and John Ullyatt and Director Wayne Paquette have created a show that’s inherently home grown, but feels incredibly foreign, transporting us to the host of social, cultural, and legal conflicts facing American police.

A Steady Rain is Denny and Joey’s story of the month where everything in their lives turned upside down and fell apart. Denny, played by John Ullyatt, is the ultimate family man – he’s got the perfect wife, 2.5 children (well, two sons and a dog) and a TV in every room in his house. His family has even been selected as a Nielsen family. Sure, he’s been passed over three times for a promotion to detective, but that’s because of the ‘unofficial quota system’ and nothing to do with his ingrained racism and tendency to rough people up and not follow protocol – right? Good thing he’s working overtime providing protection to prostitutes and taverns – for a fee – to make up for not being made a detective.

Joey – Jesse Gervais – is Denny’s much meeker, more likely to stick to the protocol, partner. Friends since ‘kinneygarten’, Joey has always played second fiddle to Denny’s top dog persona. If Denny is to be believed, Joey is not much better at being a cop than Denny is, with his alcoholism causing him to miss shifts or look the other way while on duty.

A Steady Rain starts when a pimp harassing one of the prostitutes under Denny’s protection attacks Denny’s family, setting off a series of events of Denny trying, in his own way, to keep his family safe. But, in taking the law – or some version of it – into his own hands, everything in Denny’s life spirals out of control, leaving Joey to try to pick up the pieces. A Steady Rain is a recounting of what happened – a he said/he said drama – where each man tries to justify his actions to the audience over the course of an intermission-free 90 minutes.

And this is why A Steady Rain hits so hard. It shows the audience the goodness in wrong actions. It’s a story of reconciling who you are with the world you live in. Of the morals and beliefs that make you who you are eventually driving you into tighter and tighter corners. It’s a story of protecting your family and society and asking, ‘How far would you go?’ And ultimately it’s about being able to live with, and pay the price for, the decisions you’ve made.

As A Steady Rain progresses, Denny gets more and more desperate. For Denny, everything is about logic – the one thing he never loses sight of. A Steady Rain takes place in the world of an American beat cop and is predicated on a combination of circumstances that aren’t as prevalent or crippling in Canada: long-term poverty, generational crime, social systems that don’t support overcoming either of the previous two circumstances, racially-fueled conflict, the right to bear arms, the pressure of the American Dream, and a whole other host of issues and circumstances that work against people. It’s out of this soup of social, cultural, and legal conflict that Denny’s logic arises – he has a duty to protect his family and society and the ends justify the means of achieving this goal. For an Edmonton audience, the differences between American and Canadian culture make it difficult to fully understand the rational Denny sticks to in his ever more complicated circumstances.

In the role of Denny, John Ullyatt has a difficult job: not necessarily convincing the audience that Denny’s logic is correct, but that it is actually logical. Over the course of the play he succeeds in taking our perception of Denny from a prejudiced cop who’s in it for power and not necessarily to uphold the law, to someone whose attitudes are reprehensible, but we can understand that he thinks he’s upholding the law and doing the best thing for his family. John’s unwavering insistence and genuineness in explaining Denny’s justifications starts off sounding absurd, but ultimately he is able to convince the audience of Denny’s rational.

While I’m a big fan of Jesse Gervais, at first I had difficulty believing him in the character of Joey. Contrasting against Denny by wearing more formal dress clothes and with more reserved body language, the portrayal of Joey’s timidity was almost too much to believe he could survive as a lifelong friend of wildcard Denny and a cop who is relaxed enough to not quite follow all of the protocols. However, that may be a fault of the script not providing more insight into why Joey’s backstory and why he holds on so tightly to his relationship with Denny. In any case, as A Steady Rain gets deeper into the conflict, Jesse becomes more and more heated as Joey and his body language started to relax into something that made more sense for someone who has put up with his best friend’s erratic behaviour while still holding him in high regard.  Especially as both characters enter deeper into moral grey zones, Jesse’s reservedness shines more and more against John’s franticness and physically embodies the audience’s switch in preference from Denny’s charisma to Joey’s stability. Watching John tell Denny’s version of events, Jesse’s stance is very realistic and probably something we can all relate to – uncomfortable disagreement with what’s happening, but simultaneous support of his friend.

On the production side, Blarney’s film-noir take on the play is sparse, but effective. The story is so captivating that no underscoring is really needed. The lighting, especially the harsh, piercing lights coming in from both sides of the stage and above throws both characters into a police interrogation-like setting, with minimal set elements needed to support the setting. The set also has screens behind the actors, which are mostly with colour floods to reflect the mood of the scene, but could have perhaps been more effectively used with projections of the different settings A Steady Rain takes place in.

 

FINSTER FINDS – Kristen Finlay

http://finsterfinds.blogspot.ca/2015/05/a-steady-rain-fine-layered-complicated.html

A Steady Rain… fine, layered, complicated performances

I took in Blarney Productions’ A Steady Rain last night, at C103.  It’s a dark and gritty story of two cops, friends from kinnygarden, in Chicago.  The show explores the grey area morality of Joey (Jesse Gervais) and Denny (John Ullyatt) as they tumble through re-telling the events of a summer in Chicago where everything goes wrong and the rain never stops.

Both actors give layered performances as they take turns telling the events of their shared history.  As beat cops aiming for promotion to detective and getting overlooked each tries their own way to cope and try to get ahead. Denny (Ullyatt) is married with the perfect wife and two young children.  He’s the alpha of this relationship but despite his perfect looking life he is also the more corrupt. Joey (Gervais) is the worrier and the peace-maker, he sees the the wrong in what Denny insists is right, but he is challenged by his own hesitancy and the pattern of their relationship to push for what is right. The tale is told back and forth, and interspersed with dialogue between the two. Narration is often a challenge, but both are born story-tellers and the twists of the story and it’s horrible inevitability are handled deftly. It becomes particularly interesting when each presents the details of the same events.  There is significance in the differences.

Director Wayne Paquette has wisely cast the eminently likable Ullyatt to play the more reprehensible Denny – his natural charisma bleeds through in a way that makes you not hate him, and which makes you understand how he has gotten away with what he has.  Gervais’ emotional connection is also quite wonderful when he is stuck in Joey’s inertia and helplessness as some of the more horrible things play out.  Although on opening night some moments felt a touch under-rehearsed, overall it made for a compelling and engaging 90 minutes.

PREVIEWS

The Edmonton Journal – Liz Nicholls

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/entertainment/Preview+Acting+stage+friendship+perfect+buddy+roles/11089948/story.html

Preview: Acting duo’s off-stage friendship perfect for buddy-cop roles in A Steady Rain

By Liz Nicholls, Edmonton Journal  May 28, 2015

Two friends, who happen to be two of Edmonton’s hottest, and most versatile, star actors, have just spent the morning rehearsing in the Forest of Arden — as a comical court fop and a shepherd, in the Feewill Shakespeare Festival’s upcoming production of one of the world’s most popular romantic comedies, As You Like It. On alternate days, you’ll find John Ullyatt and Jesse Gervais soldiering up in Ancient Rome in Shakespeare’s thorny, much less well-known Coriolanus, as the title hero and one of his elite generals.

And somehow, in a schedule of rehearsing more complicated than the plot of either of the above, Gervais and Ullyatt shrug off iambic pentameter, re-purpose their razor comic timing, and put down their swords to occupy another kind of danger zone: south Chicago. That’s where they play“best friends since kindergarten,” as Ullyatt puts it, and now “beat cops who’ve never made it up the ranks to be detectives, their dream.”

Gervais shakes his head, and grins at his co-star in A Steady Rain, opening Friday in the Blarney Productions season. “Two of the wimpiest actors in town playing tough guys ….”

They are amused. The gritty 2007 two-hander thriller by American playwright Keith Huff, who’s worked on TV’s Mad Men and House of Cards is, says Ullyatt, a buddy-cop drama set-up, absolutely, but with a twist. “Bad cop/ worse cop,” says Gervais.

On Broadway six seasons ago, A Steady Rain attracted the star power of two action-hero bigshots, James Bond and X-Men’s Wolverine, aka Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman, as the play’s wayward ’90s cops who have screwed up, big time, and whose life-long friendship and dreams of upward mobility are threatened by the predicament that divides them and a pressing need for damage control.

“It’s ultimately about betrayal,” says Gervais, most recently onstage putting on drag as one of the haunted small-town misfits in Blarney’s production of Full Frontal Diva. He plays Irish-American Joey, the lonely, less confident, habitual second fiddle to the swaggering Italian-American family man Denny. He’s the one “with the wife, the kids, the house and lots of TVs, the arrogant top dog, on the take” Ullyatt plays.

“We each defend our actions over a month when it never stops raining,” says Gervais of the way A Steady Rain unfolds in direct-address monologues, interrupted by dramatized recollections from time to time. It’s how our stories of the same events are totally different” — “or embellished or outright lies,” adds Ullyatt. “It’s not the story itself, it’s the telling of it, that’s the challenge.”

Ullyatt, the Citadel’s leading man, calls it “a sort of wrestling match with rules, where we can’t cut each other off, where there’s no chance to say ‘Hey, whoa! …’.”

In buddy-cop enterprises, chemistry isn’t an add-on. The two actors, who have an jokey camaraderie together offstage, have worked together before, this season in One Man Two Guvnors at the Citadel, with Ullyatt as the increasingly frantic anarchist with two employers and Gervais an upper-class twit with ridiculous pretensions of propriety. Ullyatt directed Gervais in The Miraculous Mandarin, the wordless panto accompaniment to Bartok’s music, for the Edmonton Symphony.

“We have a great base layer going,” says Ullyatt. “So it’s way easier …. We’re old buddies so we can assume things; we can treat each other appallingly and it’s OK…,” he laughs.

But it’s not just an occasional overlap in resumés that Gervais and Ullyatt share. Their multi-award-winning careers align in curious ways. Both are handsome leading men who find themselves delighted by off-centre character roles, physical comedy, street installations. Both have won awards for their work in dark, dimensional, heartbreaking dramas. Both aare physically dexterous performers, to put it mildly.

Gervais has created original dance theatre pieces, like Backwater, with his partner Amber Borotsik for their company Windrow Performance. When Ullyatt isn’t on the stage he might well be found above it, hanging off a building as a gargoyle perhaps, or spinning from a trapeze in original productions — Duck Duck Bang, Primordial Blues, Craniatrium — by Firefly Theatre, the circus company he co-founded with his wife Annie Dugan.

“I do seem to have played a lot of thugs,” sighs Gervais, with a grin. “A lot of guys named Stoopid. Charming (dunder)heads. A lot of clowns. A lot of moody guys. A lot of troubled clowns ….”

“But not tough guys,” laughs Ullyatt, including himself in the thought.

With A Steady Rain, the actors are on a bare stage, often motionless, as they tell the story of two guys fighting for their lives. “You don’t need to over-illustrate,” says Gervais. “It’s so interesting in its simplicity of staging and storytelling,” says Ullyatt. “I love the stillness …. The audience plays detective in a way.” Gervais concurs. “The economy works better than any movement …. The actor does just enough to let you be complicit. It becomes a real relationship.”

lnicholls@edmontonjournal.com

FIVE BUDDY-COP PAIRS

A Steady Rain plays off, twists, ups the ante on a classic TV and movie formula: the buddy-cop duo. Mismatched partners­ — divided by class, street smarts, experience, ethnicity, colour, attitude to the rule book, personality, even species in the case of Turner and Hooch — fight crime (and occasionally contribute to it). Five memorable examples of diverse types of buddy friction and chemistry:
Lethal Weapon: Danny Glover and Mel Gibson as a couple of L.A. cops, veteran and reckless rookie, who team up to bust a drug trafficking ring in the 1987 hit that turned into a franchise.
Starsky and Hutch: a shoddy, well-loved 1970s TV series pairing a brunette and a blonde, the one moody and intense (Paul Michael Glaser) and the other more reserved and intellectual (David Soul), who roar through Bay City, Ca. in a red Ford Gran Torino with white stripes on either side. It got overtaken by laughs in pairing of Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson in the 2004 movie of the same name.
Cagney & Lacey: Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly as NYPD detectives who lead very different lives off-shift in this ’80s CBS series.
Rush Hour: Martial arts whiz Jackie Chan and motor-mouth Chris Tucker have unexpected chemistry as a Hong Kong and LAPD detective catapulted into misadventures as they bring down incomprehensible international conspiracies in the 1998 movie and its sequels.
48 Hours: a 1982 hit with Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy as a cop teamed with a con who’s been sprung from the slammer for 48 hours for the purpose of their joint enterprise, to nail a cop killer.

 

 

Vue Weekly – Bruce Cinnamon

http://www.vueweekly.com/a-steady-rain-pits-two-cops-against-the-ugly-consequences-of-their-actions/

A Steady Rain pits two cops against the ugly consequences of their actions

The trouble and the truth

 Lifelong friends Denny and Joey have been passed up for promotion time and again. But the two cops’ unshakeable bond is put to the test when they’re forced to deal with the consequences of a poor decision.

Bringing together two of Edmonton’s best-known actors, A Steady Rain examines the fallout faced after a horrible error in judgement. Facing down an audience of Internal Affairs investigators, Denny and Joey offer vastly dissimilar retellings of events throw into question what actually happened.

Jesse Gervais gives a poetic description of the gritty-police drama—”It’s a month of non-stop rain and bad fortune,” he says—while John Ullyatt frames the play in earthier terms: “There’s a bad cop and a worse cop, and they get in trouble and all hell breaks loose.

“It’s a direct address to the audience for most of it,” Ullyatt continues. “Two simultaneous monologues that converge and diverge.”

“One cop embellishes and the other cop tells the truth, and as the audience, we get to make up our minds about what is true,” Gervais says.

Over the course of their interrogations, they recall an attack on one of their young families which galvanized the down-on-their-luck cops to pursue vigilante justice.

“They’re both from the south side of Chicago,” Ullyatt says. “It seems to be like a war zone. I don’t think there’s any equivalent to that in Canada.”

In the midst of their illegal crusade against a violent pimp, Denny and Joey are drawn into a minor domesticate disturbance which grows into a nightmare beyond anything they could have imagined.

Their loyalty to each other and their commitment to the community are put to the test as they go further and further down the ethical rabbit hole of Chicago street justice.

“What would you do to protect your own?” Gervais muses. “How far would you go to protect your family, to protect your job, to protect who you are? We get to see the breaking points of these guys. We get to ask ourselves as we walk out of the theatre: what are our breaking points?”

 

After the House Lights – Jenna Marynowsi

http://afterthehouselights.com/2015/05/26/betrayal-friendship-and-a-steady-rain/

Blarney Production’s season closer, A Steady Rainis being described as a “bad cop/bad cop” show. But at its heart, the show isn’t about understanding the law. Actors Jesse Gervais and John Ullyatt say it’s about, “Betrayal. And friendship.”

A Steady Rain, by Keith Huff, is the story of Joey and Denny, two police partners and lifelong friends in Chicago, who wrongly assess a situation they respond to and have come before a judicial review board to explain what went wrong. Mostly, the story is told through each character’s direct address monologue, with a few scenes where the two are together, portraying the events, or their (sometimes differing) versions of them. Jesse Gervais, who plays Joey, says, “We get to watch these two gentlemen tell the same story, but from different perspectives. It’s exciting to see how each of them filters these same series of events. And you as the audience get to see where the holes are as it all unravels.”

Jesse describes his character, Joey, as, “Denny’s best friend and partner – Joey has always been his second. Always takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’ because he’s afraid that if he complains then Denny won’t be his friend anymore and that kind of frames their weird relationship. They have that dynamic all the way from childhood to adulthood… Joey is a single recovering alcoholic, and he’s trying to make good by following the rules as best he can when it’s difficult because his partner doesn’t play by the rules… The rules of society, of his job, the law, and so Joey does a lot of damage control.”

Opposite Jesse is John Ullyatt in the role of Denny. “He’s kind of the top dog in the dynamic duo. Since they were kids in kindergarten he used to beat Joey up just to make a man out of him. Denny is married with two kids, but he also has a trap line and has been shaking down prostitutes and taverns for protection money. So, he’s got a lot of money in the house and a lot of TVs and he’s been lording that over Joey all these years and things [between the two] kind of switch over time… To Denny, the law is kind of grey. [He’ll do it] if there’s a better way to achieve a certain end… Ultimately it comes doesn’t to the frailty of the human condition. No one’s perfect and even the best cops in the world aren’t perfect. We all make mistakes, and sometimes they’re just really, really bad.”

In Keith Huff’s script, that really, really bad mistake that Joey and Denny make bears an eerie similarity to American officers John Balcerzak and Joseph Gabrish, who were negligent and inadvertently returned Konerak Sinthasomphone to serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. A Steady Rain has no excuses but instead provides a look at Joey and Denny’s circumstances surrounding the mistake they made.

It’s a play that is particularly relevant in the wake of the attention being brought to the actions of American police in the past several years. Previously presented in Chicago and New York, Jesse and John commented that A Steady Rain will resonate a lot differently with Canadian audiences than it does with American. Jesse says, “The people that have seen the show in New York, this is the world they’re living in. We’re here in Edmonton and the idea of the Chicago cops and having this rough beat cop life – it’s totally foreign to us. We’re telling an exotic story, which will have a different resonance here than if it was in Chicago or New York. I think it might be more compelling here.”

John adds, “There are going to be things in the story that as they listen the audience will be like, ‘You’re kidding me. Why? You’re kidding me, right? This is what they did?… There are actually police officers like this?’ These particular guys, I think they’re victims of circumstance, of where they grew up, and God only knows we could apply this to what’s happening with the police service in the United States at this very minute. So I think that’s very applicable, [A Steady Rain] humanizes them – it doesn’t excuse their behaviour – but they grew up in a war zone. And I don’t think they think they’re bad. It’s all relative, in the situation they’re in, they’re making the best of what they’ve got.”

The play gives the audience that insight into the humanity of the two characters by being presented mainly as separate monologues by each of the characters. In the intimate space of C103, the production puts the audience in many different roles as Joey and Denny appeal directly to them. Jesse explains, “The audience is constantly changing – they’re our confidants, they’re someone we have to be formal with, they’re our best friends, they’re the guy that you’re joshing around with in the locker room. That allows you to have the dynamics to make the story interesting.”

John adds, “[C103 is] such an intimate space, we don’t have to push it out to the back of the house, I can’t wait to do this for a crowd of people who are just right there with us. Because for so much of this play, I feel like we’re defending ourselves and our actions and going, ‘What would you do?’