We are all aware of the grifters and hustlers, who rather than work or even seek employment use “The Con” to earn their keep. “The Con” can be small or large and each of these “grifters” or “Con-men” looks for the one big hit that will change their lives. This is the case in Brett Neveu’s ” Do The Hustle”, now in its World Premiere at Writers’ Theatre, in Glencoe. This is a 90 minute ( no intermission) character study of a man and his son and their relationship, or what might be called a relationship. Sam ( deftly handed by Patrick Andrews) has been somewhat raised by his dad, a true hustler, Eddie ( a brilliant character study by the always reliable Francis Guinan) and they have worked as a team pulling off many little “cons” . You will be reminded of “Paper Moon” and “The Hustler” with some of the smaller “cons”. Sam, who is almost 18 is tired of doing most of the work with no cash rewards. Eddie, feels that since he has given his son food and an education that there need not be a split. Sam feels ready to make it on his own and agrees to do one big “Hustle” that will allow him the opportunity to go out on his own and make his way in the world.
During this intense study of these two men, which takes a little longer than needed to establish, we meet many “marks” and an old partner , all played by Joe Minoso who shows just how versatile he is in bringing characters to life and Karen Janes Woditsch who takes on three characters herself, each one different than the other. While the parts these two actors play are smaller roles, they are of great import in making he story work, and it does work! Under the careful direction of William Brown on an almost bare stage with just the smallest of set pieces (designed by Kevin Depinet) that allows the flow of action to move swiftly and keep the focus on what this father and son are doing and feeling about life and each other.Brown, as always shows his keen awareness of the words the author has penned and the characters developed, taking them from paper to a sort of reality.
The scenes change quickly with the actors making the changes and the lighting effects (Charles Cooper) and thesound/music(Andrew Hansen) add to the flavor of these seedy men. They are not super hustlers, living from hand to mouth, making small “cons” work for them in order to survive. The early “cons” are simple and even the big “con” is almost predictable, but the final “con” ,the one that changes their lives forever ,is one that will have you confused and will play withyour mind. I certainly do not want to reveal the ending but will tell you that both father and son learn a valuable lesson as the lights dim out.
Neveu’s works are all over town right now and in viewing them , one can see that he is able to get into the heads of his characters, allowing us to enter the minds of people who are far different from those in the viewing audience. Watching hi characters is an education and this cast handles them in an amazing way. Writers’ is known for its ability to focus on the playwrights words and in their intimate theaters ,make the audience feel as if they are witness to actual happenings. We are as close as one can get to the action which is one of the wonderful aspects of viewing a production at either of the stages in Glencoe ,known as Writers’ Theatre.
“Hustle” will continue through March 20th at The Tudor Court Stage located at 325 Tudor Court, just north of what might be called downtown Glencoe, with performances as follows:
Tuesdays and Wednesdays ( except for 2/9) at 7:30 p.m.,Thursdays and Fridays at 8 P.M., Saturdays at 4 and 8 P.M.,Sundays at 2 and 6 P.M. ( no evening on 3/20) and there are Wednesday matinees at 2 P.M. on 2/9 and 3/16)
Tickets range inn price from $45-$65 and can be purchased at the box office located down the street at 376 Vernon Avenue, by phone at 847-242-6000 or online at www.writerstheatre.org