If you’re looking for verisimilitude you can be assured that is exactly what you get every second that Burt Young is onstage and he’s there almost the entire show. He plays an aging mobster now working out of a shabby back room in a Chinese take-out and the years of being in charge permeate his very being. However, he’s now an old man, his wife is ill, he needs a last vig (the take from a gambler charged by a bookie) that will give him a chance at retirement in Florida. But, as we know from films about mobsters, things rarely go according to plan and when the scheme implodes we feel the anguish and bitter regret of a man who has lost his power.
Even though it’s often difficult to hear his words, you can’t take your eyes off Burt Young, his facial expressions and body movements tell all. This mobster is at the mercy of his followers and Young’s Big Joe can barely hide his impotent rage. The rest of the cast are superb: Ben Adams as his assistant; Gareth Williams as his old money-running pal; Paul Li as the overworked chef and, especially, Bruce Nozick as a corrupt detective.
Well written and directed by David Varriale. The grungy storage room setting by Joel Daavid is lit by Kelley Finn, with sound by Will Mahood. Costumes by Mylette Nora. Imaginatively produced by the ubiquitous Racquel Lehrman of Theatre Planners.
At Zephyr Theatre, 7456 Melrose, West Hollywood, through Feb 19. Tickets: (323) 960-7712 or www.TheLastVig.com
Photos by Ed Krieger
Also reviewed in the February issue of not born yesterday.