Think your job’s tough? Try being a Chicago cop for a night.
The Broadway hit ‘A Steady Rain,’ which plays the Grosse Pointe Theatre’s Purdon Studio Theatre this weekend, details a hellish night on the job for Denny and Joey, Chicago police partners and childhood best friends. Though they’re practically family, there’s no shortage of conflict between them. Joey secretly loves Denny’s wife, and short-fused racist Denny struggles with infidelity.
When the two make a questionable decision one night on the beat, both their jobs and their friendship are put on the line. With two broken down protagonists and a plot inspired by a real life incident involving serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, it’s clear “A Steady Rain” isn’t family fare. But for all its grit, it offers a sobering take on friendship, work and family life.
Grosse Pointe Park’s Mark Boyd, who plays Denny, says he took on his role because he thought it would be a departure from his usual parts.
“It’s always fun to play someone with a dark side,” he says. “It’s almost like a roller coaster ride. You can stick your neck out and say some horrible things, and you get the safety net that it’s not real. You’re not committing any crimes. You’re not hurting anyone’s feelings.”
Todd Alderson of Grosse Pointe Farms brings a personal touch to his role as the introverted recovering alcoholic, Joey.
“I was a minister at a church for about a decade in California before I moved here, and my life had tanked pretty bad,” Alderon says. “I had a lot of people who helped me turn it around, and in the midst of my own work with other people, being involved in their lives, hearing their stories, I guess I’ve had experience seeing the dark and ugly side of life.”
Alderson and Boyd have been working closely with technical adviser Eddie Tujaka, a former Detroit police officer, to make sure their portrayals are as authentic as possible.
“I asked him, ‘Do you think this is over the top?’ and he started shaking his head and said, ‘Absolutely not. It’s so real, it frightens me,’ ” Alderson says.
Director Kevin Fitzhenry says he hopes audiences won’t be turned off by the play’s graphic dialogue and grim subject matter. He says in spite of its dark surface, “A Steady Rain” is a universal story about real people trying to do their jobs and overcome their personal flaws.
“They’re not bad guys. They have no evil intentions at all,” Fitzhenry says. “People might yell at cops for doing their job, but they have an extremely difficult job to do, and at times it’s difficult both personally and professionally, and it affects them in major ways.”
“A Steady Rain” isn’t part of Grosse Pointe Theatre’s regular programming, and GPT season ticket holders will have to pay separately for this weekend’s performances. The play will be held in the small “black-box” style Purdon Studio Theatre in the Activities Center at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House, which Fitzhenry says hosts GPT’s more intimate, unconventional performances.
“It allows us to explore more contemporary, smaller, intense dramas that you’re not going to find on a main stage,” he says. “Right now, you’re going to find our two upcoming shows are the musical ‘Hello, Dolly’ and the touching comedy ‘Steel Magnolias,’ and this is just the driving force of drama cutting right through the middle of it. It offers a nice contrast, but it also presents something that is very real to the audience.”
Steven Sonoras is a Ypsilanti-based freelance writer.
‘A Steady Rain’
8 p.m. Thurs.-Sat. and 2 p.m. Sun.
Purdon Studio Theatre
Activities Center at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House
1100 Lake Shore , Grosse Pointe Shores