Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Den of Thieves'": ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG

There are very funny moments in Stephen Adly Guirgis's 'Den of Thieves,' light hearted but still full of soul. Casey Jackson's Paul, Chad Deverman's Flaco and Ashkon Davaran's Little Tuna steal the show, with all the good lines and the most impossible situations. And when Boochie shows up everything gets ramped up another notch.

Paul is a self-help devotee, a compulsive shoplifter, who has been theft-free for 682 days, since his last SNIB (we're going to let you find out about that on your own). He is also a compulsive overeater and compulsive talker, and is attracted to Maggie (Kathryn Tkel), another compulsive shoplifter. She is trying to get over her relationship with Flaco, who is too stupid to be compulsive anything, except crazy.

Maggie, Paul and Flaco, with the help of Flaco's fabulous girl friend Boochie (Corinne Proctor), plan a heist of $750,000, which probably doesn't do much for their compulsive shoplifter classes.

The crime is so simple, it can't possibly fail. No way.

Act Two's opening sequence is priceless, when Little Tuna, his cousin Sal (Peter Ruocco, who was so slimy in the Aurora Theater's "Fat Pig") and the Big Tuna himself (Joe Madero) arrive on stage. These mobsters have foiled the heist of their money, but they now have to figure out what to do with the morons they are holding prisoner. Death is an option, but one that is not very attractive to anyone, especially Little Tuna, whose heart is just not into executions.

Lots of good lines, lots of laughs, lots of silly situations. On the plus side you get exchanges like:

Paul to Little Tuna: "Have you ever been in therapy?"
Little Tuna: "Have you ever been in a coma?"

On the minus side the first act is too short and the last act is too long. Big Tuna ought to be stupider or smarter -- as the big boss he is the least plausible of all and rolls over 'way too easily.

But "Den of Thieves" is not about real life, it's about fun. Fun it is. Everybody wins.


The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "Den of Thieves" Three Stars with a BANGLE OF PRAISE. The Three Stars are for the cast, the opening of Act Two and for the fascinating construct of having Maggie, Paul, Flaco and Boochie have to give a speech as to why the world would suffer if he or she had to die. It leads to some self-searching and a surprise at the end.

The BANGLE is easy: Little Tuna's line to Maggie: "I hope you live. I got two tickets for Mariah Carey next week Fifth Row."

"Den of Thieves"
San Francisco Playhouse
533 Sutter Street, San Francisco
Through April 17

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