The Lombardi Case 1975
nytheatre.com review by Ed Malin
May 13, 2012
The Lower East Side is seedy again in Live-in Theater's unique, interactive crime show The Lombardi Case 1975. If you don't remember this side of the neighborhood, you will have fun walking the streets collecting clues on a pleasant weekend afternoon. First, you meet at The Living Room on Stanton Street and get briefed on the facts of the murder case by Officer O'Donnelly (Walter DeForest) and Chief Miller (Tom Staggs). The participants (no "audience" here) form teams and learn how to say "Yes, Chief." Armed with a map, some mug shots, and some notepads, the teams spend an hour walking a circuit of about a dozen blocks.
Fact and fiction blur to some extent as you search for the killer of well-connected rich girl Christina Lombardi. It is to your advantage to talk to people in the street; they might be part of the case. I particularly enjoyed talking to the actress who portrays junkie prostitute Trixypop (Sri Gordon), who was eating out of a dumpster next to the lined-up tourists waiting to get in to Katz's Delicatessen. While out-of-towners pointed and got their cameras ready, Trixy took off her sunglasses to reveal a very beat-up face. This was our cue to go and find the pimp who was probably responsible. I would like to thank the makeup artist who wrecked Trixy's face and drew on all her bloody veins.
Other people in the neighborhood are tranny working girl Vinnie "The Mouth" Ramirez (Ricardo Perez Gonzales), who put Christina out on the street to pay back for the drugs she stole; Emil the Super (Collin Blackard), who called in the fire that someone set in Christina's squat; Christina's concerned yet fidgety brother Joey (Carlo D'Amore); and Jesus De San Juan (Victor Pagan) a street dude who somehow found a special cane with bloodstains on it. My group also encountered a young girl begging for money who followed us several blocks; we were half sure that she was part of the mystery, too. Certainly, everyone we talked to cast suspicion on everyone else; depending on whom you talk to, you need to watch out for the "pigs" or the "douchebags."
Back at The Living Room, the teams present their findings and pose questions to the suspects. The dramatic ending caught me quite by surprise. Kudos to Carlo D'Amore for also writing and directing this adventure. I see that Live-in Theater also performs The Ryan Case 1873 (based on a true Lower East Side murder) and is soon to present Bootleggers Run. These are sure to be inventive and fun.