Up Close and Personal: A Steady Rain at Walnut Street Theatre

-Brenda Hillegas
-Photos by Mark Garvin

Walnut Street Theatre’s Independence on Studio 3 is a hidden gem a few floors up from the venue’s main performance space. The studio is often used for small, intimate performances and Keith Huff’s (Mad Men, House of Cards) 2009 Broadway show, A Steady Rain, might just be the most intimate (and intense) theatre experience you get.

You meet Denny, a family man who works hard to provide for his wife and children, and Joey, a single man who drinks his nights away. The two Chicago police officers have been best friends since Kindergarten, and like most long-lasting relationships, opposites attract. Denny is often outspoken and not always PC, while Joey tends to be professional and kind.  Over a non-stop 90 minutes, we see Denny and Joey face their inner demons and pull those demons out from one another. We see how tables turn, how these two men aren’t what they appear to be on the surface. We see their actions and their consequences. And basically, we just see every day life for the pair.

Marc D. Donovan and Keith J. Conallen in A Steady Rain in Walnut Street Theatre’s Independence Studio on 3. Photo by Mark Garvin.

Actors Keith J. Conallen (a Philadelphia native) and Marc D. Donovan both make a spectacular Walnut Street Theatre debut in A Steady Rain. What they do during this hard-hitting show is nothing short of amazing. Their acting is top-notch, their words are fast-paced, funny at times, and raw, and they play off of one another with impeccable chemistry.

The black box theatre setting for A Steady Rain, directed by Walnut regular Fran Priscocreates the perfect atmosphere, allowing the audience to really focus and dive into the only two characters on stage. With nothing but two chairs and the incredibly real dialogue from Conallen and Donovan, it’s up to the audience to provide the rest of the set. You ping-pong between Denny and Joey as they talk directly to you; you’re their outlet now. You’re their ear to vent to as they explain recent traumas and day to day scenarios as police officers. The rest, though- Denny’s house, police chases, a prostitute’s living quarters, a gas station altercation, shootings- are all up to your imagination. The entire experience is very believable from the minute these actors walk onto the floor. You’re drawn in immediately.

Much like The Humans– Walnut Street Theatre’s other currently running production- A Steady Rain explores what happens when our demons are exposed and how they influence the people around us. We see that sometimes dishonesty, betrayal, and self-pity are simply just human nature. How we act on our impulses and emotions, though, is what shows people our true character.

Tickets to A Steady Rain can be purchased here. The show runs until March 25th.

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