by: Susan Hasho
There are men in the Mob with cousins who aren’t in the mob; so how do you remain close?
Kashmir has a problem; he’s a screenwriter and he has let a producer bilk him out of his script by signing away his rights in a weak contract. He and his cousin Salvy are talking in his apartment having a discussion. (Their mothers are sisters. Salvy’s father is Italian and Kashmir’s father was a Polish woodworker.) Salvy talks about his chosen field—headhunting. Literally, he hunts heads and cuts them off for the Mob. Over the course of the play, Salvy negotiates closeness with his cousin and offers to help him get his contract back. According to Salvy, Kashmir has another problem—he is “soft; hangs out with lady friends, just friends, it makes you weak.” By the end of the First Act, Kashmir has agreed to accept Salvy’s help.
Kashmir is waiting for Salvy at the opening of the Second Act and he arrives with a shopping bag. (It would have been better if what was in the bag had remained there and we had been left to use our imaginations. The imagination is much more effective, especially where gore is concerned.)
The play continues by unraveling information about Kashmir’s father’s seemingly accidental death and the inner workings of the Italian Mob. The thing that saves this play is the somewhat Socratic questioning technique that Salvy employs to wisen Kashmir up, and the obvious affection he has for him. In addition—he likes the screenplay.
Trenton Clark as Kashmir and Jay Rivera as Salvy are both very good actors and they play for real. The tension and resolution in the relationship is handled beautifully by both men. The director Richard Gekko has guided the action well, letting the actors explore the reality of this story in a very organic way. The set is a small kitchen and sitting room, authentic and claustrophobic. But the play, written by Mark Borkowski, has predictable twists and turns and leans on stereotypes of Italian Mobsters, and even playwrights and producers to make his point. The fact that they are cousins of a different stripe could have been examined in a more unexpected, creative way. These actors could handle it.
Dorothy Strelsin Theatre (Abingdon Theater Complex), 312 West 36th Street,NYC 2 fl.
Through November 28. Smarttix: 212-868-4444. www.smarttix.com
Photo: Jonathan Slaff