Strong acting drives ‘A Steady Rain’ in Pagosa

Tim Moore, left, as Denny, and Craig Dolezel as Joey play Chicago police officers on a personal crusade against a criminal who harmed Denny and his family. Enlarge photo

Rory Chapman/Special to the Herald

Tim Moore, left, as Denny, and Craig Dolezel as Joey play Chicago police officers on a personal crusade against a criminal who harmed Denny and his family.

Thingamajig Theatre Co.’s production of Keith Huff’s “A Steady Rain” is dark, grimy and suspenseful – an ambitious yet good selection for the winter season. As two Chicago police officers, and lifelong best friends, relentlessly search for a criminal, we watch the unwinding of their emotional fabric in this fast-paced two-man drama.

Loosely based on the events surrounding the murders for which Wisconsin resident Jeffrey Dahmer was convicted, “A Steady Rain” is an introspective look into the deteriorating relationship of Denny and Joey, two working-class beat police officers. Directed by Pat Payne, it features Thingamajig artistic director Tim Moore as Denny and Craig Dolezel as Joey. Incidentally, playwright Huff is a writer and co-producer of the AMC hit “Mad Men.”

In the close setting of the Center for the Arts’ black box theater, Moore and Dolezel create an intimacy with the audience, pulling the viewer along on shootings, car chases and murder scenes as if they are in the patrol car as well. Denny and Joey narrate the story using an interrogation at a later date, re-enacting flashbacks until the final, unexpected climax.

Moore and Dolezel are superb in their roles. Though Moore is a familiar face on the Pagosa stage, he quickly forces the audience to drop all association with his previous performances. Dolezel, visiting from the New York theater scene, brings a soulful intensity to the part of Joey.

“The challenging thing about (the play) is the dialogue between the two actors,” Payne said. “The way the story is told is something you don’t see often in plays. It’s a script that (has) twists and turns that you don’t necessarily see coming.”

Moore initially selected “A Steady Rain” in large part because of the quick, gritty and colorful dialogue that drives the story. At times, it can be hard to listen to as Denny and Joey describe murder victims in graphic detail. The Motion Picture Association of America would say, “A Steady Rain” contains “strong language.”

“It is probably one of the more intriguing shows I’ve performed or produced,” Moore said. “I don’t think anything like it has been done around here before.”

Moore said Thingamajig’s winter season is about serving a local audience as opposed to the summer, which offers a lighter fare for tourists. With “A Steady Rain,” the Center for the Arts is certainly pushing the boundaries of theater in Southwest Colorado.

“Shows such as (‘A Steady Rain’) are not only good for the community, but also good for local artists who are looking to express themselves in those creative outlets,” Moore said. “My general philosophy is not to get pigeonholed into anything ... A lot of people tend to play it safe with the standards, but you can see that anywhere.”

The upcoming season at the Center for the Arts is a blend of light and heavy material, with “It’s a Wonderful Life” next in queue for the holidays.

Margaret Hedderman is a freelance writer based in Durango. Reach her at margaretyh@gmail.com.

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