In another demonstration of Hollywood's hold on Broadway, the drama A Steady Rain , starring film stars Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig (a "two hander" as such two-actor plays are called) produced $1.17 million in ticket sales at the Schoenfeld Theatre during the week ending Sept. 20 -- a record for a non-musical, even though the play was still in previews. The sales record was set without benefit of the mostly solid critical reviews that appeared only today (Wednesday) following Tuesday's official premiere. In his review, Ben Brantley of the New York Times observed that while both actors "are just fine in their parts" he could not avoid thinking that if they had merely recited the alphabet, "their joint appearance would still generate ticket sales unknown for a straight play since Julia Roberts appeared in Richard Greenberg's Three Days of Rain ... three years ago." He dourly predicted that "superstitious producers will start looking for other plays with small casts and precipitation in their names as money-making vehicles for stars from the covers of People ." Overall, Brantley's is one of the few so-so critiques of the play. Elysa Garner in USA Today concludes hers by remarking, "It's hard to imagine a better vehicle for two actors who clearly don't need larger-than-life characters to deliver grand performances." Linda Winer in Newsday comments "This is a taut exercise in Middle American Pulp fiction, a gorgeously acted set of monologues about moral ambiguity and a couple of disappointed beat cops." It is, she concludes, "quality theater." In the London Daily Telegraph , Claire Stenhouse observes, "By turns humorous, dark and tense, the actors handled Keith Huff's evenly paced drama, directed by John Crowley, with a skill and subtlety which rarely gets chance to shine in Hollywood." Other critics praise the two actors but fault the script. In the New York Daily News, Joe Dziemianowicz writes that the stars "ooze confidence and charisma. But Chicago writer Keith Huff's play is a stark and modest work that's all talk and no action." Peter Marks in the Washington Post writes that the play is "presented as that timeworn convention, a star vehicle. It might be an opportunity for audiences to see in-vogue movie actors in the flesh, but otherwise it's an opportunity squandered." On the other hand, Charles McNulty concludes in the Los Angeles Times "As drama, A Steady Rain is mostly drizzle. But as entertainment, the play packs hurricane force, thanks to its lightning headliners."

30/09/2009