The unusual coincidence (given L.A.'s recent drought) of seeing A Steady Rain on a night when the weather mirrored its title provided the proper pre-show atmosphere for Keith Huff's dark buddy-cop drama.
Once inside, I discovered a relatively bare set, three projection screens upstage and two wooden roller chairs. These thrones of law enforcement soon were inhabited by Joey (Thomas Vincent Kelly) and Denny (Sal Viscuso), the former more genial and empathetic, the latter more streetwise and callous. Calling them “good” cop and “bad” cop would be too simplistic, however, as during their recollections, each inhabits ethical gray areas.
The reminiscences center on two main incidents: a response to a domestic disturbance call in which they discover a Vietnamese teen on the streets and return him to his “uncle,” and a retaliatory shooting by a pimp with whom Denny has a history.]
Director Jeff Perry's staging of Huff's unique style of duologue – in which time periods and locations shift rapidly, as does the target of the characters' words – employs enough blocking to not seem static, while maintaining the focus on the actors' storytelling. The nimble lighting (Michael Gend) and atmospheric projections (Adam Flemming) and sound (John Zalewski) round out the mix in transforming the intimate space into various Chicagoland settings.
Viscuso is authentically gritty in portraying Denny's “old-school” nature and fixation on “logical conclusions,” but he also flashes humanity in revealing his equal fixation on “family.” Kelly provides the perfect counterbalance, subtly fleshing out Joey's complex relationship with his partner and best friend.
Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West L.A. Through April 20. (310) 477-2055, www.OdysseyTheatre.com
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