Daniel Craig, Hugh Jackman Broadway Reviews: So-So
The reviews for “A Steady Rain” by Keith Huff starring Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman are in, and the consensus is that the play’s an absurd melodrama, a blatant star vehicle in which Jackman is miscast as Denny the Chicago cop; Craig as Joey the Chicago cop and Denny’s friend since kindergarten is better. (As if it mattered what mere critics think: For the week ending September 20th, the show’s weekly gross of $1,167,954 was the highest for a non-musical in Broadway history.).
Ben Brantley in the New York Times: ” Big names, little show.
“A Steady Rain,” which opened on Tuesday night at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater, is probably best regarded as a small, wobbly pedestal on which two gods of the screen may stand in order to be worshiped…“A Steady Rain” takes up a sit-dram setup made popular in gritty plays and movies of the 1930s: Best friends since childhood, in the same tough neighborhood, find themselves on different sides of the law and in love with the same woman!”
Michael Kuchwara of Associated Press: “…a minor, melodramatic little play…One problem with “A Steady Rain” is its overload of stories that could probably fill several episodes of television’s ‘Law & Order.’”
Elizabeth Vincentelli of The New York Post: “Huff’s idea of thinking outside the box begins and ends with his naming the Irish character Joey (Craig) and the Italian one Denny (Jackman). Everything else is steeped in hoary convention, from the flashback structure to the tone, dripping with tough-guy attitude…. Bad-boy Denny takes kickbacks on the job but his domestic life, complete with wife and kids, is relatively settled. Responsible Joey goes to sensitivity training but also has a drinking problem and can’t get a date. That’s about it for layers.
“When things come to a head in a mishmash involving a lactating prostitute, a violent pimp, a serial killer and a puppy — sadly, they aren’t all together in a bar — Joey must re-examine his lifelong relationship with his hotheaded friend and partner.
“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.
“Jackman is vastly appealing, as usual, but he’s also miscast as Denny…”
Peter Marks of The Washington Post: “A 90-minute “duologue” in which the actors recount an absurdly calamity-filled few weeks in the lives of two maverick crime fighters, the play by Keith Huff packs in descriptions of enough murder and mayhem to stock entire seasons of the “CSIs” in Las Vegas, Miami, New York and for that matter Chillicothe, Ohio.”
Michael Feingold of the Village Voice: “…the important parts of A Steady Rain are Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman. Without them, Keith Huff’s play wouldn’t be much—would, in fact, hardly be a play at all. Narrated in alternating dollops by its two characters, from some cosmic limbo where the living and the dead can engage in cross-talk and occasionally deign to notice each other, it tells the mildly interesting, mildly sensationalistic story of two Chicago cops whose partnership suggests what might happen if Laurel and Hardy got in shape and took up law enforcement.
“Craig and Jackman don’t look or sound much like Chicagoans—or cops—but, being magnetic and handsome, do very well for stuff like this, which requires only a tenuous brush at believability…One wouldn’t mind seeing either man in an actual play sometime.”
Roma Torre of NY-1 is a little more positive: “… both Craig and Jackman are solid stage actors. Craig nails the accent a little bit better than Jackman, who occasionally gives his lines an Aussie inflection. But they handle the clipped banter well, and both are convincing as street-hardened cops. “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.
But Jackman and Craig in their first dramatic roles on the Great White Way have certainly earned their stripes, deserving a more worthy vehicle for their superstar talents.”
Linda Winer of Newsday is the most positive of all: “a taut exercise in Middle American pulp fiction, a gorgeously acted set of monologues…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.
“Jackman and Craig mostly sit in chairs under what appear to be interrogation lamps. They tell their versions of events in the past tense, sometimes to us, sometimes to each other. Jackman – radically transformed from his Tony-winning song-and-dance flamboyance as “The Boy From Oz” – boasts black patent-leather hair and the insolent air of entitlement as Denny, the family man and alpha dog in this friendship. Craig – an experienced London stage actor but a genuine discovery for Broadway – plays the milder-mannered Joey, a lonely alcoholic who seems to want to hide behind his bland mustache. He may be a less flashy character, but his drives are no less primal.”
The headlines for many of the reviews, incidentally, made a pun on the idea of rain, from “Shower of Praise” to “More Like A Steady Drizzle.” Brantley observed that Julia Roberts’ star vehicle on Broadway also had “rain” in the title, “Three Days of Rain,” and suggested future Broadway star vehicles: “A Hatful of Rain” with Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, the sweethearts of the vampires-in-love “Twilight” movies, as the drug addict and his pregnant wife? Or Lindsay Lohan as Sadie Thompson in “Rain”?
Photograph by Joan Marcus
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