The sight and sound of Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman on stage, grappling with flat Chicago accents as Windy City cops in Keith Huff’s two-man play, A Steady Rain, is so startling that it takes a minute to handle the truth. The British movie star famous as James Bond and the Aussie movie star famous as Wolverine are appearing on Broadway in the kind of slight, artificially structured American chamber piece that normally lives on a small Off-Broadway stage. And even after the shock passes, the dissonance distracts. Why are these international stars playing parochial characters inferior to any cop on TV?
Maybe they haven’t watched The Wire. Maybe they think Huff’s tricky, declamatory setup represents gritty American veracity. At any rate, the pair works hard. Craig plays Joey, a bachelor. Jackman is his partner, Denny, a family man with a dark side. (Jackman never looks like he has a dark side.) The two narrate differing accounts of a few terrible — and, per the title, wet — days in their lives on the beat. (Huff drew on a real-life case to build his talky, 90-minute, one-act show.) The characters address the audience while sitting in simple chairs on a bare stage lit by two dangling light fixtures that suggest an interrogation room. Here’s the sad truth: The menace, fear, fury, and sadness arbitrarily ascribed to these miserable SOBs would feel more authentic with more menacing actors in the roles. Of course, without the eye-catching cast, throngs wouldn’t be snapping up tickets for this stagy police story. C+