Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Steady Rain

Justin Cotta and Nick Barkla present A STEADY RAIN, by Keith Huff, in association with Red Line Productions, at the Old Fitz Theatre, Woolloomooloo.  22 September - 17 October.

A STEADY RAIN (2007), by Keith Huff, is a cop show, a vivid law and order episode of a grimy underbelly intensity, looking at two Chicago men-in-blue, two schoolboy, neighbourhood friends, partnered to patrol their cities' streets for the protection of their citizenry. It examines two men, two bonded 'bros', under the relentless pressure of the 'job' they do, who over time have shifted the goal posts of their integrity, both in their public and private life so far for so long that, inevitably, something has to give.

This production, by Adam Cook, is gripping in its control of the story telling, and it uses the gifts of Sound Designer, Jed Silver, to create, sonically, the world of the Chicago locale, subtly, introducing a vital third 'character' for the developing  'atmospherics' of the scenario of the experience. Too, the Production Design, by Ross Graham, keeps the locations varied with his Lighting choices and creates the illusion that there is something more than two separate monologues with an occasional present moment dialogue interaction, going on.

The actors give very good, but obvious, performances. Justin Cotta, as Denny, the off-the-rails/bad cop strikes too quickly a heightened macho-energy that becomes a little too one state for too long. That Denny is dangerous and losing control is telegraphed very early, so that we get Denny too easily, and can anticipate/predict his disastrous plummet into the abyss. As a result the writing appears to be one-dimensional and plot-wise dull, despite the language skill. It is the stamina of Mr Cotta's ability to sustain his choices that becomes the pre-occupation of our appreciation/amazement of what we are seeing. Construction of character with an emotional discipline with a detailed restraint to the imaginative and intuitive response to the story development could produce more interesting work than the button-popping stresses we witnessed. The Marlon Brando question that that actor posed himself often: "What else can I do with this moment?" is what I wanted to ask Mr Cotta while I was watching. There were no surprises in his response to the scenario of Denny. Nick Barkla, begins a little under energised vocally but builds to a heartfelt angst at the luck that Joey, in these circumstances, is rewarded with. The turmoil of the good cop struggling with his attraction to his best mate's wife, and to the frustrations of his 'bully' partner/life-long friend are crafted well, even if the inner and outer physical destruction of Joey with an alcoholic addiction and recovery is hardly signalled for us - the fresh-faced health of the actor is what dominated one's impression.

A STEADY RAIN, is what, typically, almost dependably, one has come to expect to see at the Old Fitz Theatre under the Red Line Production curation. The macho, high testosterone bad behaviour of men, written and performed very well. More of the usual. I remarked, recently, that the presentation of BLONDE POISON was a good move for the demographic of the company, both for the representation of the female artist (and dare I say older artist), but also for the audience. We shall see how it pans out for the rest of this year and with their plans for the next year.

A STEADY RAIN, the typical reliable macho opportunity at the Old Fitz, well done, again, by this team of artists.

N.B. There is no information in the program about the writer!


justin cotta said...

Well KJ, if i am being 100% honest with myself, I would have to say you are 100% right. I agree with everything you have said. To the letter. I'm not being cute or patronising or playing politician here. I'm flat level serious. You are on the money. Fact. It actually stuns me that I have not asked of myself "What else can I do with this moment?" Perhaps too much focus on producing and not enough focus on the heart and multiple layers of Denny himself. Not an excuse. There are no excuses for giving a blatantly one dimensional performance. Perhaps a conceit or indeed an arrogance in assuming that "i already know this character, i've got this nailed!", as opposed to the humble question "I wonder who this character really is.. Like REALLY is..underneath the silver-tongued machismo on the page". Every now and then we need a good kick up the arse from those who know what the fuck they are talking about. It can't all be rainbows and lollipops. And sometimes we get the information we need and crave after we have already had opening night. I respect you. You are a great teacher Kev. Sure, lots of good teachers at NIDA back then etc etc.. But I refer to you as my mentor. My coach. Some lessons are hard learned. Often the best lessons. There are 3 weeks left. 21 precious days to pull my head out of my arse and start asking "What else can I do with this moment?" I am absolutely furious with myself for leaving it this late. But the more time I waste dwelling on the past and sooking over what's already done, the less time I will have to ask "What else can I do with this moment?" So I better go now, and find out who the fuck Denny really is....
Thank You for giving a passionate fuck about theatre, and thank you for having the balls to be honest.
Forgive my long message KJ, but you have, again, spurred something in me. In the best way.
Your student always,
Justin x

John said...

What an extraordinary letter from Mr Cotta. How many actors would have the Character is a preoccupation of actors; but how many actors would have the depth of character to write this?
The start of a fascinating dialogue, perhaps...
I hope to see the production, remembering how Mr Cotta lifted a production of "The Removalists" at the Bondi Pavilion maybe three years ago to extraordinary heights.