Through September 23
ROOMMATE American Repertory Theater of WNY/The 330 Performance Space
I knew a collector for a local mobbed up money lender, best known for using a 2X4 to collect.
After all, who would see a piece of lumber as a weapon?
Mark Humphrey’s “Roommate” is about an enforcer for a moneylender named Elliot (Brett Klaczyk), who has loaned some cash to a low-life named Paul (Michael Starzynski).
Paul is a little short of cash to pay him back.
As the story moves along, we learn he’s in a lot more trouble than that.
To make sure Paul doesn’t skip town as he’s starting to do, as he flees his fancy apartment for the hidden slum he’s hiding out inside, Elliot has an assistant, Booke (Victor Morales).
I don’t think Morales has the greatest range as an actor, but in the right role he’s wonderful and Booke is an ideal role for him.
He’s just supposed to scare Paul, to make him find the $3,000 needed to pay Elliot.
Booke’s the kind of enforcer who threatens with body language and tone rather than waving around some weapon or tool.
Elliot is different, with Klaczyk way over-the-top as a moneylender.
They are usually just businessmen, with people like Booke around to make sure payments are made at interest rates well above LIBOR.
He’s intelligent and well-spoken, a former star college football player who translates poetry from Spanish.
Booke also won’t buy into Paul’s shtick, before he admits he was a successful financial advisor, apparently around Wall Street, who was stealing large amounts of money to pay for his gambling problem and paying it back when he was flush.
Then, both the cards and the market go cold and an intrepid reporter hacks his records and discovers what’s going on.
Booke has little sympathy and Elliot doesn’t care since all he wants is his money.
Paul discovers all of his “friends” have turned on him and won’t loan him that $3,000.
It’s an interesting twist for a play that the enforcer is the closest of the three characters to the good guy.
Neither Paul nor Elliot is even close.
It is proof that the loansharks fill a need, illegal though it is and should be.
The further along in the show, the more I’m not telling what happens.
Morales is really good, while Starzynski gets better as the play goes along and the real crook surfaces.
Klaczyk needs work.
Director Drew McCabe does nice work with local playwright Humphrey’s play.
You only have a few days to get over to the theater at 330 Amherst to see “Roommate.”
It’s worth seeing.
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