Two-time Tony Award winner Scott Pask is in star-studded company on Broadway this fall, having designed the scenery and costumes for Keith Huff’s two-man play, A Steady Rain, in which Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman play a pair of Chicago cops. Scenically, Pask and director John Crowley went for a black and white, 1990s film noir concept to support the gothic aspects of the duologue.
The action begins in an austere, ambiguous location. “You are not sure where they are,” says Pask, describing the set as a concrete floor with two overhead industrial lights, which could be a warehouse or a police station. “There are two chairs of a similar style, with a black void around them. It stays that way for the first 20 minutes of the play.”
That’s when things start to get interesting. “Significant locations mentioned in the dialogue magically appear on stage,” Pask explains. “Almost every 20 minutes, there is a big contextual moment with visual enhancement to the storytelling in response to the writer’s shift in tense from narration to lurid description of moments as they occur.”
The first of the set pieces to loom out of the darkness like a vision is a four-story tenement building, designed with extreme perspective. “The bricks on the tenement façade were routed out of Homasote®, chipped away until we got the exact look we wanted, and then painted with high-gloss paint for a rain-soaked look,” Pask says. “The distorted perspective is highly stylized and not at all naturalistic. There is no sound of rain, just these visions that look rain-drenched. At the end of the play, they are in a forest with massive trees, very different from the earlier architectural images. I felt it was important to make the visual shift from the built world we had become accustomed to in the production, to that of the natural and primal by the end of the piece.”
Bill Mensching and ShowMotion built the set pieces—which move on automated tracks—with scenic painting by Steve Purtee of Scenic Art Studios. Pask provided digital files of what the brick should look like to reinforce the idea of forced perspective. “It’s great when my work is as I intended and not compromised by the size and scale of materials available,” he says.
This is also a case where the clothes define the man. Craig’s suit alludes to the early 1990s (a key moment in the play reinforced this decision for Pask). The suit has single pleated trousers and a side-vent jacket, while Jackman wears more casual street clothes with a baggy fit and rolled up sleeves. “The palette is primarily shades of gray with the only flash of color a rust tie or muted blue shirt,” explains Pask. “I enjoy designing the clothes when I can explore the characters very closely with the actors and keep the overall look of the entire production tightly aligned.” In this case, the characters never leave the stage, there is no intermission, and the play is very intense, as the momentum builds, and these two guys just tell their story.