The Lady Drug Dealer and the Heist
nytheatre.com review by Maura Kelley
August 15, 2011
I Mean! Productions' production of The Lady Drug Dealer and the Heist by Temar Underwood is part Guy Ritchie movie, mixed with '70s sitcom and topped with a stoner flick. One sure thing, this play that feels like a movie is a laugh-out-loud good time.
The basic plot has three stoner guys—Gray (Alexander Elisa), Jimmy (Jon Hoche), and Reggie (Mike Mihm)—who manage to sniff up $2,000 worth of coke in one night with no money to give the Lady Drug Dealer (Erica Swindell). The lady DD shows up with her muscle, Benjie (Jonathan Hinman), to obtain her money by forceful means, but soon finds a more interesting venture. The group, along with Odessa the insurance woman (Maya Lynn Robinson), organize a heist at Gray's employer, a bank. Hunter (who later changes his name to Morrison; Ian Campbell Dunn), the patsy bank security guard, begins the story, but allows Gray to tell it from his point of view with side coaching.
All of the actors are strong and on top of their game thanks to director Underwood. Hoche is a comic genius when it comes to playing this type of guy. I've seen guys like him on Steinway Street in Astoria where the play takes place. Jimmy's obsessive concern over the concept "where do midgets shop for clothes?" is a theme throughout. Other hysterical moments are the psychedelic trip that Odessa, Benjie, and Jimmy take doing salvia. The actors' insane physicality is further enhanced by trippy music and sound effects by sound designer Kimberly Carbone. Another absurd moment is when the group breaks out to The Golden Girls' theme song while engaging in a group hug as their dreams bleed out.
One minor annoyance was that the coke-obsessed Hunter, for a period of time, sits in the audience while he sniffs, snorts, burps, and coughs in an effort to reinforce his coke habit. As this was distracting, my thoughts are if you don't have a light on you… chill out.
The play is full of surprises, turns, twists and funny nonsense, but beware, it's definitely not PG. This line might explain it a little: "This is like Hamlet, all quirky and funny… til the end." Temar Underwood is just as solid in unifying his cast as he is in his writing. This is a go-see!