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A robbery is planned

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Theater: "On the Money"

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A modern-day Simon Legree owns two restaurants and a slew of laundromats and is making money hand over fist. He doesn’t actually abuse his employees physically---just emotionally. He underpays them, provides no benefits, and continually threatens to fire them. As played by Vincent Guastaferro, Candy is an over-the-top villain.

And so his employees in the Black River Café plan to rob him.

The plot is introduced by headwaiter Benny (David Fraioli) and is quickly seconded by waitress Nancy (Maria Tomas). The head bartender, Jack (Jonathan Kells Phillips) is a little harder to convince, but when Candy deducts the cost of some broken wine bottles from his pay without warning, Jack agrees to go along with the robbery.

The play is On the Money by Kos Kostmayer, an award-winning novelist (Lost Religion, Fargo Burns, and Politics of Nowhere), poet (Hamlet Sings the National Anthem), playwright (The History of Fear), and screenwriter (I Love You to Death).

Kostmayer is reprising On the Money, which had its west coast premiere and a nine-month run at The Victory Theater some 30 years ago. It is once again being presented at The Victory Theater Center, and is directed by Tom Ormeny, co-founder and artistic director of the Victory. The set, a nicely stocked bar, is the work of set and lighting designer D Martyn Bookwalter

The play builds suspense and tension through the fine acting of the three conspirators, most especially Jonathan Kells Phillips, but the ending comes a bit abruptly and has less dramatic impact than it ought to. That’s a chronic problem with many otherwise engaging plays. As Benny says, “The world is full of lunatics.”

On the Money can be seen at The Big Victory Theatre, 3326 West Victory Blvd. in Burbank Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 4 through March 2nd. Call 818-841-5422 for tickets.

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