Barebones Productions gives A Steady Rain the spare, tight exposition that it needs. Directed by Melissa Martin, Keith Huff's 2007 police melodrama features two excellent actors hurtling through the past and the present in an often breathtaking ride.
To be honest, the bare bones of the story are a bit hackneyed: Two kids from the wrong side of the tracks grow up together and stay close as adults, with somewhat differing interpretations of the law, but the love of the same woman. (How many times did we see Cagney or Gable do this?) A tussle with "political correctness" updates the tale from its black-and-white cinema days. But it's the quality of Huff's dialogue, and its interpretation by Patrick Jordan and David Whalen, that makes Rain a must-see.
Jordan, barebones founder and artistic director, portrays Denny, the dominant partner and unrepentant bigot. (Really, it's a compliment to say that Jordan does great asshole.) As Joey, the overshadowed "good cop," Whalen tries to put his missteps behind him and to face the future more sensibly and optimistically. But the buddies' rapidly fraying friendship was built on a lie that won't hold anymore. Denny's relationships with his family, his job and reality in general are falling apart, while Joey's loyalties go into self-contradiction mode.
Potential spoilers follow: The setting is Chicago in a year that could well be 1991, before everyone had cellphones and when Milwaukee's cannibal/killer Jeffrey Dahmer was not yet a legend. For audiences invested in the police characterizations of Law and Order, etc., Rain is a richly credible tale of how two officers could get so messed up in their personal problems that they make an irreversibly horrible mistake on the job. Disaster ensues. Catharsis follows climax. (In reality, the beat cops who handed a screaming, terrified Asian-American kid back to the blond, blue-eyed serial killer laughed about what they saw as a homosexual "domestic incident." And, yes, they were fired — but later both were reinstated.)
Cops and actors make a classic combination. A Steady Rain presents one of the best.