Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Philosophy For Gangsters @ The Beckett Theatre @ Theater Row

A grisly family murder leads Italian gang member, Callie, to kidnap a college philosopher and put him to work in her mafia family’s business and at the forefront of a misguided revolution that reaches as high as the White House in the comedy Philosophy for Gangsters. On paper, the play promises a quirky, Jersey comedy, rich with stereotype humor; ending with a beautiful message disguised in laughter to appeal to the liberal arts freshman, hipster artists, and embittered college professors. In the flesh however, this comedy falls flat with missed cues, broken character work, and scene changes that were often longer than the scenes themselves. 

Australians Liz and Barry Peak wrote and directed Philosophy for Gangsters and while I admire their
idea of “a comedy that throws various popular culture myths, story forms and memes into a Mafia melting pot,”
a their writing style was sloppy for the stage. The amount of screen usage undermined the stage work and the 45 second scenes onstage were not enough for the audience to care about any of the characters. 

A play made up of secondary characters cannot illicit a reaction and I felt as if I were watching a sketch comedy show, not a two hour, two act comedy supposedly comprised of complex characters. That being said, David Demato (Eddie), tackled his character and was the only actor who made conscious choices, even if he did break character to laugh at an obviously ad libbed joke from his scene partner. 

The creative team is comprised of Julia Noulin-Mérat (scenic design), Sarah Cogan (costume design), Carl Wiemann(lighting design), M. Florian Staab (sound design) and Lauren Genutis (properties). Jessica Pollack is Production Stage Manager.

Art enables the freedom to be offensive and this play sets up for hilarity, but the political correctness of the script caused the jokes to fall flat. If you’re going to poke fun at anything, do it with conviction. 

Philosophy for Gangsters opened at The Beckett Theatre(west 42nd) and has a limited run through March 1st. 

Review By: Aziza Seven

Photos By: Carol Rosegg

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