Gritty crime story un­folds over leg­endary strip club

Sounds of the city pro­vide nat­u­ral back­drop dur­ing per­for­mances

The Province - - ENTERTAINMENT - SHAWN CON­NER

When Van­cou­verites think of The Pen­t­house, it’s prob­a­bly not as a hot­bed of the­atre. That may change with Seven Tyrants The­atre’s pro­duc­tion of A Steady Rain. The com­pany is stag­ing the play in a room above the down­town night­club’s show lounge.

We talked to Seven Tyrants’ co-artis­tic pro­ducer/ac­tor David Ne­wham about the play, the un­usual the­atre space, and fill­ing Hugh Jack­man’s shoes.

Q: So, were you just in the up­stairs rooms of The Pen­t­house one night and thought, ‘Hey, this would be a great place for a play?’

A: That’s about the nut of it. It kind of hap­pened over a span of a few years. We re­hearsed A Beg­gar’s Opera up­stairs at The Pen­t­house in 2014. It’s a very in­ter­est­ing part of Van­cou­ver his­tory, to say the least, in terms of the peo­ple who came there. Ella Fitzger­ald, Sammy Davis

Jr., Frank Si­na­tra and Bil­lie Hol­i­day would come and hang out.

Flash for­ward to us plan­ning our sev­enth sea­son. We wanted to do an­other two-han­der. It had been a long time since Dan (De­ork­sen, who co-stars in A Steady Rain) and I had per­formed to­gether. We trained to­gether in the­atre school, and formed this com­pany to­gether.

How did you come across A Steady Rain?

In 2009-10, when Hugh Jack­man and Daniel Craig were per­form­ing it on Broad­way, it was in the me­dia quite a bit.

It’s such an amaz­ing piece of writ­ing. Most read­ers would know Keith Huff (the play­wright) as one of the writ­ers from Mad Men and House of Cards. The writ­ing is just sub­lime. It al­most reads like a CSI or Law & Or­der episode.

How large is the space?

There’s seat­ing for about 40 au­di­ence mem­bers. We’ve ba­si­cally built a new stu­dio the­atre.

Part of what’s in­ter­est­ing about see­ing the show is check­ing out the space. These rooms are rarely opened, ex­cept some­times for tourists.

The strip­tease that’s nor­mally on show down­stairs doesn’t start un­til af­ter the per­for­mance.

Any in­ter­est­ing com­ings-and-go­ings dur­ing re­hearsal?

Some­times we re­hearse late at night and we have mu­sic and things to con­tend with. I think it’s good prac­tice for our con­cen­tra­tion. What’s cool is, we’re in the pen­t­house of The Pen­t­house, right down­town. The sound of the city per­vades. Dur­ing per­for­mances, au­di­ence mem­bers will ex­pe­ri­ence the sounds of traf­fic, of sirens. It’s a nat­u­ral back­drop to this story.

What’s it been like do­ing a twohan­der with your Seven Tyrants co-founder?

It’s been nine or 10 years since we were on­stage to­gether. We’re good friends, so we have a bond al­ready, and I think that comes through in the play. It’s been a lot of fun to play around to­gether and run the lines to­gether.

There’s a lot of hu­mour in the piece, even though it’s very dark. It’s fun to have that repartee with some­one you know so well. We’re able to an­tic­i­pate one an­other.

The en­ergy leads to some ex­cit­ing and in­ter­est­ing things in terms of the com­edy and drama of the story.

Olds friends Daniel De­ork­sen and David Ne­wham re­unite to play a pair of Chicago cops in the crime story, A Steady Rain.

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