Friday, October 2, 2009

Tales of Two Stories

Over the last two weeks I took in a pair of testosterone-laced two-handers, both of which were undone largely by too-familiar tropes: Richard Hoehler's Fathers & Sons (pictured), which I reviewed for Time Out, and Keith Huff's much ballyhooed A Steady Rain, starring James Bond and Wolverine, also known as Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman.

Whoever it was that sat me a mere three rows from the stage and Hugh Jackman, I thank you. He's lovely to look at, but why, oh why, did he pick a play that amounts to such hokum to mark his return to Broadway after a five-year absence. Maybe my response to the show would have been kinder if I hadn't just finished reading an excellent new Joseph Wambaugh novel, Hollywood Moon, on the subway before the show. He may have left the LAPD 35 years ago, but he understand police work from the inside.

After seeing A Steady Rain I wasn't surprised to read that Huff graduated from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, not the police academy. He does a nifty job introducing the characters and laying the groundwork for their story, but about halfway through this 90-minute enterprise, believability evaporated. Hugh's character, a Chicago patrol cop, talks about the night bullets were fired into in house, sending his young son to the hospital … but he's back out on duty with Craig's character — the next day!

No major police force would send one of their own back out on patrol 24 hours after their home and family had come under attack! There would be reassignments, visits to shrinks, a procedure to follow before he could be cleared for duty. Once that happened the play never reestablished its credibility, despite the charisma of its capable stars.

Ah well, at least only one ringing cell phone was heard, and that a faint one, and at a point in the show where there was a natural pause, so no actor-audience interaction to report.

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