Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Den of Theives"

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note: entire contents copyright 2005 by Larry Stark

"Den of Thieves"

By Stephen Adly Guirgis
Directed by Mark Abby VanDerzee

Scenic Design by Anita Fuchs
Lighting Design by Jeff Adelberg
Costume Design by Joy Adams
Sound Design by Mike Feld
Assistant Stage Manager Cassandra Fox
Production Manager Summer L. Williams
Stage Manager Mariana Maranhao

Maggie........Nicole Parker
Paul..........Keith Mascoll
Flaco............Mason Sand
Boochie....Molly Kimmerling
Sal...............Tony Berg
Little Tuna....James Milord
Big Tuna...Kenneth McFadden

Company One is justly proud of the care, detail, and intensity of their challenging choices of thought-provoking plays, but they have with their newest production accepted their greatest challenge yet: they're doing a comedy! That same Stephen Adly Guirgis whose bitter death-row play "Jesus Hopped The A-Train" introduced Boston to Vincent Ernest Siders gave Company One his "Den of Thieves". It's still about moral choices, but when the confrontation is between Mafioso gunsels and people in the 12-step program Thieves Anonymous --- and the capos Little Tuna and Big Tuna are Black --- you're in for a ridiculous laugh-riot. Add to it the note "There will be gunfire and a chainsaw used during the performance" and that's a laugh-riot Squared!

The play is structured like a fold-out, getting bigger and more complicated by logical steps. It starts with a nervously guilt-ridden Nicole Parker visited by her mentor Keith Mascoll, who advises "Give what you stole back and apologise" but when he notices she's only boosted junk-foods he recommends Over-Eaters Anonymous. "I'm a member. I used to weigh 400 pounds but I haven't touched refined sugar in 973 days!" Now, Keith is approaching six foot and looks like he might weight 98 pounds sopping wet with a rock in his hand. So when he says his grandfather taught him to crack safes, and that Gramps' Den of Thieves gang never kept the swag but instead built public libraries with it, only Keith's "Would I lie to you?" straight face keeps his story believable.

Okay, enter Mason Sand as this girl's violently jealous ex who insists he's still in love --- even when his "Other One" played by Molly Kimmerling shows up. She's a proud sex-worker addicted to big words, but has only a nodding acquaintance with dictionaries. He's a cockie 'Rican with a spring in the heel of one shoe, and he knows an off-the-books drug scam waiting to be knocked over, if only he can find a safe-cracker in the next three hours.

Okay, about the very un-typical Mafia-types: First comes Tony Berg as a calmly businesslike hit-man/go-fer who is addicted to betting thousands of occasionally other-people's money on horses that don't always win. He wants to get the shooting over fast because he's into cooking. James Milord as Little Tuna does a lot of throwing his weight around and compromising on the "an eye for an eye, a life for a heist" philosophy, and his dad (Kenneth McFadden as Big Tuna) wonders if he's really suited for the family business.

I may have told more than a reviewer should, but I have merely skated over the surface of this roll-in-the-aisles comedy to suggest the unfolding, logical ridiculousness at work. However, Guirgis' subject is Moral Choices --- I'm told his new play seeks to re-open the case of the one person an all-forgiving God still condemns (Judas!) --- so even in this comedy the hope of restitution or reform or redemption in even the most outlandish of 12-step programs lends some serious spine to the silliness. And, as someone pointed out, tragedy ends in death but comedies end in marriage --- at least of a Sort!
But you gotta go see the show to understand what I mean!


"Den of Thieves" (31 March - 23 April)
Boston Center for The Arts, 539 Tremont Street, BOSTON MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide