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THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE Torn Space Theater/Adam Mickiewicz Library & Dramatic Circle;ORN
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Feb 22, 2019, 15:50
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Through March 19
THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE Adam Mickiewicz Library & Dramatic Circle/Torn Space Theater

There are risks being a low-life providing services to low-lifes.
That’s what Cosmo Vittelli (Stan Klimecko) is, the owner of the Crazy Horse West, a sleazy LA strip bar with a gambling Jones and some very bad friends.
Cosmo has just finished watching his staff shake their butts enough to pay off a major gambling debt and he’s feeling free.
Since the major attraction in these clubs is naked to almost naked women dancing around, no one pays much attention to the club MC, Mr. Sophistication (a wonderful Chris Brandjes) a truly awful performer.
If any of this sounds familiar, you may have seen John Cassavetes’ movie “The Killing of a Chinese Bookie,” turned by Torn Space into a stage show of the same name.
The production uses Torn Space’s shifting arrangements of its performance space in the Adam Mickiewicz cultural space on Fillmore.
It’s not exactly a secret that organized crime has a strong presence in the sex and stripper business and here, the bad guys are lurking in the background, Victor Morales’ menacing Hitman and Gary Andrews Stieglitz’ spiffily dressed Hitman.
My experience with tough guys is that the toughest of them don’t act it out, they just exude it.
That’s true here with Morales and Stieglitz, as they leverage Cosmo into the worst cleft stick of his life.
They put Cosmo into an impossible situation and force him to solve a problem for them, leaving him to kill and be fatally wounded.
They are no good guys in this show although a lot of bad guys.
It’s a depressing look at low-lifes, although the show relies on sound effects from Justin Rowland to symbolize the customers.
Klimecko and Morales hold it all together.
Kristina Siegel contributed the set, with the techniques of opening and closing curtains showing budget limitations.
“The Killing of a Chinese Bookie” is a depressing, fatalist reminder of my younger days as a reporter dealing with the low lifes servicing the even lower-lifes and worth seeing.
A.W.

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