Sometimes good actors can help mediocre material survive. But when half the cast is missing in action, that fact reduces the chances of something good developing on stage.
In the formulaic A Steady Rain by Keith Huff, two cops are serving a conversation back and forth over a cop-drama net that has been wilted by too much familiarity. Doing a good cop/bad cop routine on the audience, Denny is the hard ass with questionable morality while Joey, his life-long pal from school days, is a recovering alcoholic who has a crush on Denny’s wife.
As the two guys plod dutifully through their respective stories, it becomes apparent that even the lurid details of their histories won’t save this play from itself. And since most of it happens in the past, there is no immediacy and no spark.
As Joey, Chris Richards is believable and does what he can to craft a functioning character. Trouble is, he’s playing off Tony Zanoni as Denny, and Zanoni fails to match Richards’ performance. By latching for dear life onto a Joe Pesci-like accent, minus the menace, Zanoni’s serial monologues lack the shape and depth that Richards exhibits.
In another play with more characters, this would not be a big problem. But this two-hander requires two performers who are equally weighted and continually complementary, like two acrobats.
Indeed, as the play ground on to its sad conclusion, it was hard not to wish that the director Robert Ellis, a fine actor with the heft that is missing here, had cast himself in the role of Denny. That might have been magical. Instead, A Steady Rain is just as waterlogged as it sounds.
A Steady Rain
Through November 11 at none too fragile theater, 1835 Merriman Rd., Akron (enter through Pub Bricco), 330-962-5547, nonetoofragile.com