AISLE SAY San Francisco


by Keith Huff
Directed by Meredith McDonough
Presented by Marin Theatre Company
Boyer Theatre
397 Miller Ave., Mill Valley, CA / Phone (415) 388-5208

Reviewed by Judy Richter

Two all-too-human white cops patrol the tough streets of Chicago in Keith Huff's "A Steady Rain," being given its West Coast premiere by Marin Theatre Company. Denny (Khris Lewin) and Joey (Kevin Rolston) have been best friends since kindergarten, and now they're partners on the police force.

The voluble Denny loves his wife and two young sons, but he barely conceals his prejudices against minorities. The quieter Joey is unmarried and lonely. He's had serious problems with alcohol, but thanks in large part to Denny, he's sober. While Denny is somewhat casually dressed in a polo shirt and leather jacket, Joey wears a suit and tie (costumes by Maggie Whitaker).

Besides being bigoted, Denny plays fast and loose with the rules, prospering in the process. Joey apparently goes along with him, but he's trying to help Denny overcome his prejudices so that they can be promoted to the detective bureau.

Everything begins to catch up with Denny when he pushes a pimp too far, and the pimp pushes back, shooting at Denny's home and seriously wounding his son. From then on, Denny pursues the pimp relentlessly. In the meantime, the two cops make a serious mistake in judgment. Things spiral more and more out of control, leading to a tragedy that is, in a way, poetic justice.

All of this takes place in about 90 minutes without intermission as the two characters narrate their version of events under two overhead lights suspended from grating and on a stage furnished with only two chairs (set by Andrew Boyce with lighting by Lucas Krech and sound by Chris Houston). Even though Denny is annoying, almost over the top in his explosiveness, one can understand how love for his family motivates him.

Director Meredith McDonough carefully ratchets up the tension and suspense in Huff's script. The two actors are both terrific although one sometimes wishes that Lewin would tone down some of Denny's excesses and speak more slowly to be understood better. Otherwise, this is a powerful, engrossing, tightly written play that provides much fodder for consideration of the characters' motivations, ethics and morality.

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