Vincent Regan in A Steady Rain at the Arcola. Photograph: Nick Rutter

Set in downtown Chicago in the “not too distant past”, A Steady Rain sucks you in.

Denny and Joey have been best friends since childhood and are now partners in the police force.

This pair of beat cops would do anything for each other.

“I don’t want you going back to that armpit of a place and giving it to the bottle,” Denny says when trying to keep Joey away from “the sauce”.

When a “lowlife” injures Denny’s son in an act of revenge, Denny goes off the rails and takes the law into his own hands. Joey steps in to support Denny’s family and rifts surface between the friends.

Written by Keith Huff (House of Cards and Mad Men), A Steady Rain debuted on Broadway in 2009 with Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig.

In the London debute, both Vincent Regan as Denny (300, Troy, Clash of the Titans) and David Schaal as Vincent (The Office, The Inbetweeners) are also strong enough to convince that a play with just two characters can enthrall for a full two hours.

They successfully rescue the plot when it veers too close to the good cop–bad cop dichotomy.

The simplicity of the set works well with the pace of the plot as it switches between the present, flashbacks and direct narrative. A table and two chairs double up, amongst other things, as a sofa, kitchen table and police van.

Weather as a metaphor is a familiar device. But when rain begins to fall across the back of the stage, the audience nevertheless feels the oppression. And the sense of relief when it finishes, just as the plot resolves.

Where the play treads a little too close to cliché, the production and acting sustains it.

A Steady Rain at the Arcola Theatre, 24 Ashwin Street, E8 3DL until 5 March. 
www.arcolatheatre.com

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