BROADWAY MAGAZINE – Last night, A Steady Rain starring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig opening at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. Now the Broadway opening night critics have weighed in with their reviews. A careful reading of 16 reviews of the production yields some interesting results. While all critics are in agreement that the play is a star vehicle; and that the stars Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig are solid and some would say exceptional in their roles, there is also significant praise for director John Crowley and set designer Scott Pask. While critics were positive about both stars’ performances, Daniel Craig seemed to have sparked the most surprise with the success of his performance.
The script by Keith Huff created the most interesting responses from critics. Though several critics dismissed the script as a confluence of multiple sensational crimes and dramatic events packed into the 90 minute production and likened it to “Law & Order,” others found in Huff’s script something richer than a linear cop drama with its use of metaphor and abundance of ghastly detail co-existing with ordinary life. In addition, numerous critics had praise the veracity of Huff in capturing the language of Chicago cops. Those who found in Huff’s drama something more than a formula offer a compelling perspective on the play that is both illuminated because of its star casting, but simultaneously blinded from appreciation by that strong star cast. Of course the real question from all of these positive notices is whether or not stars, director, set and writer will be remembered at Tony Time. See last year’s The Seagull or Equus. Below is our review matrix for A Steady Rain.
Should you see A STEADY RAIN on Broadway?
Yes, especially if you like Daniel Craig, Hugh Jackman, Chicago police officers, drama, humor, monologues, crime stories, new plays, popular shows, and strong productions with positive reviews for the stars involved you should certainly see A Steady Rain. Click here for show video.
“In A Steady Rain, the setting may be this-decade Chicago (the play had a successful pre-Broadway run there with a different cast), but the urban scenery – masterfully invoked by designer Scott Pask, whose tenement backdrops conjure cathedrals of decay – could be 1970s New York.” – Brendan Lemon, Financial Times
“If Jackman cosies up to the audience like the Oscar night host that he was in March, Craig submerges himself fully in the part of the alcoholic Joey, Denny’s best buddy and partner on a pretty fearsome beat.” Matt Wolf, The Times of London
“Jackman, with his wonderful easy fluidity, shows once again that he’s a natural-born stage star; Craig, saddled with a less showy role and an English-prof toothbrush mustache, does lots of wild gesticulating before settling into his character and showing that he, too, has what the stage demands.” –Michael Feingold, Village Voice
“For the record, both are just fine in their parts, and in the case of Mr. Craig, almost unrecognizable with a milquetoast mustache and cowed mien, more than fine.” –Ben Brantley, New York Times
“Huff’s briskly absorbing script has its clichés and contrivances, but Denny and Joey are drawn with such earthy wit and non-patronizing compassion that Rain never rings false or superficial. It’s hard to imagine a better vehicle for two actors who clearly don’t need larger-than-life characters to deliver grand performances.” –Elysa Gardner, USA Today
“The writing is part second-generation David Mamet, part TV cop show - not profound or wildly original, but commanding, with both a bully-boy swagger and a closely observed sense of casual ugliness.” –Linda Winer, Newsday
“Because the story is told in alternating monologues, the two actors rarely interact. This deprives the show of the much-needed energy the collision of these two particular particles might have created.” –Elizabeth Vincentelli, The New York Post
“Not only does Crowley not mess with the ambivalence of the setting — we’re not sure if we’re hearing this story alongside a journalist, an internal-affairs investigator or a priest — he actually sharpens and personalizes the storytelling by jettisoning the desks used onstage in Chicago and leaving these two men standing in their own pools of heavy overhead lights.” Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune
“There is enough plot for three tabloid stories (attempted and actual killings, pimping, whoring, adultery, betrayal and whatnot) but insufficient depth for truly affecting theater.” –John Simon, Bloomberg
“The problem with A Steady Rain, the pulpy police drama that opened Tuesday night at Broadway’s Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, is that the stars’ surface ruggedness is the evening’s only magnetic facet.” – Peter Marks, Washington Post
“Still, you can see why Jackman, a Tony winner for “The Boy from Oz,” and Broadway freshman Craig were attracted to the edgy material, which is being made into a film. They never leave the stage. It’s an hour-and-a-half closeup. In Chicago-ese, which they manage not to mangle.” - Joe Dziemianowicz, New York Daily News
“(Hugh)Jackman, in his first New York stage appearance since his very different turn as Peter Allen in “The Boy From Oz,” is in full macho-bluster mode and is hugely entertaining. Craig is even more of a revelation.” –Frank Schek, Reuters
“The play is literally awash in symbolism. For one thing, that rain in the title just won’t quit. It’s something the two policemen keep mentioning throughout the evening, giving a kind of apocalyptical menace to the spasms of violence that pepper the plot.” –Michael Kuchwara, AP
“By turns humorous, dark and tense, the actors handled Keith Huff’s evenly paced drama, directed by John Crowley, with a skill and subtlety which rarely gets chance to shine in Hollywood.” –Claire Stenhouse, The Telegraph
“”A Steady Rain” is at best a modest drama for Broadway that not even the strength of Wolverine and James Bond could turn into must-see theater.” –Roma Torre, New York 1
“Using only their craft (and a fair amount of gesticulating), Jackman and Craig must command a stage that designer Scott Pask keeps minimally furnished, with two chairs, two hanging interrogation-room lighting fixtures, and fleeting images of Chicago buildings in the background. They definitely do so.” –David Finkle, Theatremania.com
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