Patrick Jordan doesn't judge the characters in the plays he picks for barebones productions so much as he delves into their psyche and invites audiences to take the ride along with him, the better to judge for ourselves.
The gritty character study "A Steady Rain" puts that notion to the test. The Keith Huff play presents events through the eyes of two Chicago police partners and longtime pals -- shy Joey has a drinking problem and secretly loves Denny's wife, Connie; macho Denny is a bully who cheats on Connie.
A horrifying miscalculation in a case, based on a real-life murder, sets their lives on a crash course as the action plays out in a series of dueling monologues and dialogues.
Mr. Jordan portrays Joey and David Whalen is Denny, his first acting job with barebones after directing "Take Me Out" in 2008.
It was Mr. Whalen who suggested that Mr. Jordan take a second look at the Keith Huff play, which in 2009 ran for 80 performances on Broadway, with Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig as the marquee names.
"David had considered doing the show in another city, so he was invested in the part that he's playing," Mr. Jordan said. "They are two sides of the same coin. I would have been happy playing either role, but this has basically came to us naturally."
"A Steady Rain" is an intense, dramatic follow-up to the season's other offering, the more humorous "The Mother****** With the Hat." Mr. Jordan said he and his co-star are finding humor, here, too, and he doesn't like to pigeonhole the work as "dark," which is often attached to "A Steady Rain."
"Not so much dark, really, and that's true of the last play and this play, too. ... What I hope is that conversations start happening as they did with the last play -- what's wrong and right, light and dark, what's real. You don't want to make up your mind before you see it."
In "A Steady Rain," Mr. Jordan saw an opportunity to take the theater company back to its barebones roots, which started below a Squirrel Hill bowling alley. Now in residence at the New Hazlett Theater on the North Side, expect a minimalist production, with an emphasis on the lighting by Andrew Ostrowski and sound by Dave Bjornson.
Melissa Martin directs her third barebones production, with an eye toward clarity, as players engage in a back and forth representing different points of view
"It's a twisty story," Mr. Jordan said. "If you put yourself in these guys' situations, you can relate. The truth is how you tell it -- you paint your own picture."