Hollywood came to Broadway last night as Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and James Bond (Daniel Craig) opened in A Steady Rain, a drama about two Chicago cops caught in moral quicksand. Jackman plays Denny, a hot-tempered family man with a secret life. And Craig is his best friend, a bachelor who drinks himself into oblivion to hide the love he feels for Danny’s unseen wife. Both actors speak in credible Chicago accents. Not bad for Jackman the Aussie and Craig the Brit. Here’s the problem: Theatergoers are being asked to pay top dollar to watch two stars stand on a bare stage and basically rehearse for the movie A Steady Rain will eventually become (playwright Keith Huff says he initially wrote it as a screenplay).
This is not to say that Jackman and Craig aren’t worth watching. They have stage presence to spare and uncommon magnetism. The New York Times review called Craig the winner in the acting sweeps, claiming that Jackman often seems to be presenting his character more than inhabiting it.” My feeling is that Denny has spent his life “presenting” himself, wearing so many masks that he’s forgotten who he really is. Jackman nails that aspect of the character. Don’t expect violence, except the verbal variety, unless you bring a cell phone to the theater — then duck if Jackman catches you using it (check out the clip above for proof). Final verdict: Huff’s play cries out for the gutter poetry of a David Mamet, who could make this baby sing. As it is, A Steady Rain is just an expensive excuse to bask in the Jackman-Craig starshine. Those who miss out can wait for the movie.