On the Money

Pat Taylor
TolucanTimes.info
2014-01-31

Written by Kos Kostmayer, with a great understanding of the human spirit, and the lengths people will go to survive … this is a totally captivating play. Having hosted this play’s West Coast Premiere here 30 years ago, and noting that the financial problems of good American folks haven’t changed much in 3 decades … the Victory Theatre folks decided to reproduce this gripping play once again. A past review of this very play in The L.A. Times stated … "An exceptionally powerful naturalistic play about the evils of money – or lack of money … Theater of the head and the heart."

Directed powerfully and poignantly by Tom Ormeny! A compelling cast of 10 fine actors bare their souls, in heartfelt performances that still ring true in today’s economic difficulties. The story unfolds at The Black River Café in New York in the 1980s. The likeable bartender Jack (an excellent Jonathan Kells Phillips), the stressed out waitress (a quirky Maria Tomas), and Benny the angry waiter (a cocky David Fraioli) work their tails off to make ends meet. Their wealthy and miserly boss is a tough guy to please, and couldn’t care less about their personal issues (a dynamic performance by Vincent Guastaferro). The trio of disgruntled staff eventually plot a dangerous and shady way to get what they need out of their self involved employer. In the midst of it all, a spaced out and whacky cowboy drifter saunters in a wanting a drink, but has no money, and returns later. Jeff Kober is captivating as this mysterious loner, and offers an unforgettably passionate scene toward the play’s end, as we learn more about his life issues. Tony Maggio is sleazy perfection as a heartless loan shark, here to collect money from the bartender. In smaller roles, rounding out the fine cast are Michael Filipowich, Cara Manuele, Robert Dominick Jones, and Luca Rodrigues. This is a very strong production that holds the audience under its gritty spell throughout! Setting the mood perfectly: The detailed bar and café set is gorgeous, designed by D Martyn Bookwalter, who also designed the lighting. Crisp sound design by Rob Corn, and costumes designed by Bonny Baldwin, round out the “tech” efforts perfectly. This is a totally enthralling play that has a lot to say … Do plan to see it!

Running through March 2 at The Victory Theatre located at 3326 Victory Blvd. in Burbank. For seats call (818) 841-5422 or go to thevictorytheatrecenter.org.