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Cliches of the mob... in "Unorganized Crime"

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"Unorganized Crime," now in its run at the Elephant Theatre, in Hollywood, highlights the venerable Chazz Palminteri as Sal, and written by Kenny D'Aquila, who plays his brother Gino. The show also features Carmen Argenziano, as Carmelo, whose credits include appearing with Shelly Winters in Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth, and Arthur Miller's All My Sons. The acting is stellar; the script superb-- a comedic take on a dysfunctional crime mob family, literally involved in unfinished business. Elizabeth Rodriguez plays Rosie, the beleaguered wife of Gino (D'Aquila), herself a Tony award nominated actress, and a regular on Netflix' Orange is the New Black. We are first introduced to the set of Gino's home, a comfy living space replete with plush furniture; the only thing out of place is two dummies at the dining room table, whom Gino practices his 'therapy' upon.

He first enters and straps on a waiter's apron, politely serving his imaginary guests dinner and wine, but soon gets disgusted with their nonplussed behavior, and soon begins his rant and vitriolic cursing and punching. Immediately, the show's tenor and tone is set. Soon Chazz Palminteri enters the scene, to the audience's delight. He is, as the expression goes, a "made man," indiscriminately killing at his whim, with no fear or remorse. Soon after, enters the landlord Haakim (Jack Topalian), and announces they're late on the rent, and in exchange will have sex with Rosie, and they subsequently engage in a silhouette bedroom dance (as shown on a dark screen overhead), only to shortly thereafter be strangled by Sal.

We discover debts are not taken lightly, and revenge is a serious matter, in this family, at which point Sal states, "I will collect somehow." A climactic moment is when Gino is told that their mother was murdered in a hit. Sal proposes to Gino, to "off their own father," in retaliation. The father, although a boss of a major crime family, seems to have done right by his sons, stating to Gino, "I've tried to keep you away from all the criminal underpinnings of the family," and announces, "I'm an old man, do with me what you will..."

Chazz Palminteri is a credible actor in this play about deceit, 'paying up,' murder, and mayhem. Although many scenes are violent and not for the faint of heart, there is comedic relief throughout, almost playing like a TV sit-com; and all too tragically realistic, based on extraordinary circumstances and probable events. For those fans of A Bronx Tale, this play is a must see.

Elephant Theatre 1076 Lillian Way

Through May 31 Thursdays through Saturdays 8PM; Sundays 7PM (323) 962-0046


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