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‘A Steady Rain’ — powerful storytelling at Thingamajig Theatre

Thingamajig Theatre Company opened “A Steady Rain” last week.

Keith Huff’s compelling two-character play is just 90 minutes long and focuses on childhood friends from a seedy Chicago neighborhood who have grown up to become cops with different takes on the rules of law and life.

It may sound like a formula TV drama, but what makes the play work is Huff’s salty writing and the way the actors, Tim Moore and Craig Dolezel, live inside their characters.

Denny (Moore) is a charming, somewhat thuggish cop who is passionate about his family on one hand and “protects” hookers for some extra income on the other.  

Joey (Dolezel) is his guilt-ridden, self-effacing partner, loyal to Denny but not able or willing to prevent his downward spiral.

The two pledge to help each other out — Denny has a “problem with his mouth” and Joey “with the bottle” — but good intentions fail and the destructive unraveling is predictable, but exciting.

Moore plays up Denny’s sunny side and focuses on his occasional flashes of heroism. Dolezel’s Joey is soft and melancholy. It’s hard to imagine that Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig, who starred in the 2009 Broadway production, could have managed the Southside cop lingo as well or delivered the roles more persuasively.

Pat Payne’s understated direction and Jacob Welch’s simple stage and lighting design — two chairs set under the raw glare of police lamps — leave the actors plenty of space to act out their desperation. The incessant rain — innovative sound design by Moore — is an intensifier.

“A Steady Rain” is powerful storytelling at its best.

Thingamajig Theatre Company presents “A Steady Rain,” rated R for mature themes and explicit language through Oct. 28, Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m.

For tickets and information visit www.pagosacenter.org or call 731-SHOW.

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