Los Angeles Theater Review: UNORGANIZED CRIME (Elephant Theatre in Hollywood)

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by Tom Chaits on May 9, 2014

in Theater-Los Angeles

ALL THAT CHAZZ

Kenny D'Aquila and Chazz Palminteri star in the World Premiere play UNORGANIZED CRIME, written by Kenny D'Aquia and directed by David Fofi at the Elephant Theatre in Hollywood.Actor Chazz Palminteri returns to the Los Angeles stage in the world premiere of Unorganized Crime, currently shooting up the joint at the Elephant Theater in Hollywood. He first hit the boards in 1990 with his highly acclaimed one-man autobiographical outing A Bronx Tale which catapulted him into a successful movie career (over 50 films) including an Oscar nom for Bullets Over Broadway. He quickly became the go-to-gangster when the script called for a hot-headed Mafioso with a cool persona. While his role here doesn’t by any means require him to stretch his acting muscles, it doesn’t diminish the enjoyment derived in watching him ply his trade up-close and personal in an intimate setting.

Chazz Palminteri, Elizabeth Rodriguez and Kenny D'Aquila star in the World Premiere play UNORGANIZED CRIME, written by Kenny D'Aquia and directed by David Fofi at the Elephant Theatre in Hollywood.The short script (under 70 minutes) by Kenny D’Aquila (who also co-stars) is an uneven affair. It starts off strong packed with black humor and very funny sight gags, but then it takes a downturn in the middle only to up the humor quotient again and gain momentum, building to a satisfying, if not more decidedly dramatic, conclusion. It tells the tale of Gino Sicuso (D’Aquila) who has been banished to Detroit by his mob boss father Carmela (Carmen Argenziano) after wussing out on a “hit” he couldn’t execute. His loyal hooker wife Rosie (Elizabeth Rodriguez, Tony nominee for Motherfucker with a Hat), who fancies herself a therapist and life coach, has embarked on a mission to toughen Gino up so he can convince his father he has finally grown a pair and earn his way back into the family business. She does so by forcing Gino to release his anger and frustration on a pair of life-sized dummies. When big bro Sal (Palminteri) arrives on the scene with bad news and a hostage in tow life gets considerable more complicated. The action unfolds in the ultimate test of sibling and spousal loyalty and the power of the overriding instinct to survive.

Chazz Palminteri and Kenny D'Aquila star in the World Premiere play UNORGANIZED CRIME, written by Kenny D'Aquia and directed by David Fofi at the Elephant Theatre in Hollywood.In the capable hands of director David Fofi, the cast excels in mining all there is to be mined in Mr. D’Aquila’s words. Mr. Palminteri glides into the role of Sal with great ease and why not: It’s basically the performance he has been honing for decades. Mr. D’Aquila layers the soft-hearted Gino with great pathos and yearning, winning over the audience and giving the standout performance of the night. The admirable Ms. Rodriquez (a last minute replacement) does what she can with the fairly one-note character of Rosie, which restricts the ability to bring any real depth to the character. Perhaps in time, this accomplished actress will find more nuances to enhance her portrayal, but at this point she’s pretty much all Harpy all the time. Mr. Argenziano does a fine job with what little he has to do, and Jack Topalian is fantastic as the unscrupulously lascivious landlord Haakim. His brief appearance is a real show stopper.

The set and lighting design by Joel Daavid fills the space well and captures the feel of a lower middle-class dwelling perfectly. At first glance it appears that a piece on the second level is out of place but when it is revealed to be a shadow screen for the upstairs bedroom activities it makes perfect sense.

Even though violence, murder, sex, and drugs are featured front and center, the show manages to come off rather tame, never reaching the gritty intensity you might associate with such activities. Still it’s worth catching: Great performances, snappy dialogue, and of course all that Chazz.

photos by Daniel Reichert

Unorganized Crime
Elephant Theatre
1076 N. Lillian Way in Hollywood
Thurs – Sat at 8:00 pm, Sun at 7:00 pm
ends on May 31, 2014
for tickets, call 800.595.4849 or visit Tix
for more info, visit Unorganized Crime